No teaching has a monopoly on truth, no teaching is totally true

Remember, no teaching has a monopoly on truth. No teaching is totally true, as what is being shared is beyond words and cannot be captured in words. Rather the teaching is a method of removing ignorance, that it all…it is a thorn to remove a thorn. The teaching is also false, a thorn, a new form of ignorance that if clung to will cause suffering

The primary ignorance is the belief in a limited ‘me’ entity, or the notion ‘I am the body mind’, or I am a subject living in a world of objects (subject-object duality).

The teaching is there to remove that false belief.

We do not need to replace this with a new belief such as ‘all is illusion’, but the teaching may take many forms such as ‘all is illusion’.

Ultimately we do away will all teachings.

The best teachings are those that self-destruct once their work has been done!

This Thursday ONLINE Satsang/Meeting with Tom Das | Liberation and Non-Duality | Advaita

All are welcome to join me in an ONLINE satsang this Thursday 8pm GMT (UK time). See the link below for details and how to join.

We meet ONLINE on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month.

Best wishes to you all

Tom

Online Satsang (Zoom) with Tom Das

Thursday, Mar 5, 2020, 8:00 PM

Zoom Online Meeting
Click on link below to join London, GB

5 Members Attending

We meet online on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month. HOW TO JOIN THE MEETING If you have never joined before, it’s easy to do so! 1. Please make a £10 payment prior to joining the meeting at http://www.tomdas.com/donate. 2. Simply click here to join at the time of the meeting (times given are in UK time): https://zoom.us/j/9409264979 If it is your …

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Shortcut to Nirvana: nothing to perceive/ your true nature – Chan (Zen) Master Hui Hai

Before Zen spread to Japan and was known as Zen, it was in China and known as Chan. Here 8th Century Chan Master Hui Hai gives us a wonderful short-cut to enlightenment or nirvana:


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Hui Hai: The Shurangama Sutra says: ‘Perceptions employed as a base for building up positive concepts are the origin of all ignorance (avidya); ‘perception that there is nothing to perceive – that is nirvana, also known as deliverance.’

Questioner: What is the meaning of ‘nothing to perceive’?

Hui Hai: Being able to behold men, women and all the various sorts of appearances while remaining as free from love or aversion as if they were actually not seen at all – that is what is meant by ‘nothing to perceive’.

Questioner: That which occurs when we are confronted by all sorts of shapes and forms is called ‘perception’. Can we speak of perception taking place when nothing confronts us?

Hui Hai: Yes.

Questioner: When something confronts us, it follows that we perceive it, but how can there be perception when we are confronted by nothing at all?

Hui Hai: We are now talking of that perception which is independent of there being an object or not. How can that be? The nature of perception being eternal, we go on perceiving whether objects are present or not. Thereby we come to understand that, whereas objects naturally appear and disappear, the nature of perception does neither of those things; and it is the same with all your other senses.

[Tom: what is being signified here by ‘eternal’ perception that is independent of objects? :-)]

Questioner: When we are looking at something, does the thing looked at exist objectively within the sphere of perception or not?

Hui Hai: No, it does not.

Questioner: When we (look around and) do not see anything, is there an absence of something objective within the sphere of perception?

Hui Hai: No, there is not.

Questioner: When there are sounds, hearing occurs. When there are no sounds, does hearing persist or not?

Hui Hai: It does.

Questioner: When there are sounds it follows that we hear them, but how can hearing take place during the absence of sound?

Hui Hai: We are now talking of that hearing which is independent of there being any sound or not. How can that be? The nature of hearing being eternal, we continue to hear whether sounds are present or not.

Questioner: if that is so, who or what is the hearer?

Hui Hai: It is your own nature, which hears, and it is the inner cogniser who knows.

The Gateway to Non-Duality: Essential Chan (Zen) Teachings from Chan Master Hui Hai

Before Zen spread to Japan and was called Zen, it was known as Chan in China. In this dialogue the essential gateway to nirvana and enlightenment is revealed together with several other useful chan/zen teachings from the 8th century Chan Master Hui Hai himself. Bold type has been added by myself for emphasis of certain points I felt to be particularly important:


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Questioner: Is the nature of the Absolute (Chan-ju) a true void, or not really void? To describe it as not void is to imply that it has form [Tom – and how can the formless absolute have form?]. Yet to describe it as void implies mere nothingness, so what would then be left for sentient beings to rely on in their practice for attaining deliverance?

Hui Hai: The nature of the Absolute is void and yet not void. How so? The marvellous ‘substance’ of the Absolute, having neither form nor shape, is therefore undiscoverable; hence it is void. Nevertheless, that immaterial, formless ‘substance’ contains functions as numerous as the sands of the Ganges, functions, which respond unfailingly to circumstances, so it is also described, as not void. A sutra says:

‘Understand the one point and a thousand others will accordingly grow clear; misunderstand that one and ten thousand delusions will encompass you. He who holds to that one has no more problems to solve.’

This is the great marvellous awakening to the Way. As one of the sutras says:

‘The myriad forms, dense and close, bear the imprint of a single dharma.’

How then can so many sorts of views arise from the one Dharma? All these karmic forces are rooted in activity. If, instead of pacifying our minds, we rely on scriptures to achieve enlightenment, we are under-taking the impossible. Ourselves deceived, deceiving others our mutual downfall is assured. Strive on! Strive on! Explore this teaching most thoroughly!

[Tom – here in the above paragraph the emphasis is clearly on stilling the mind as opposed to mere book/scripture reading and theory] 

Just let things happen without making any response and keep your minds from dwelling on anything whatsoever; for they who can do this thereby enter nirvana. Attained, then, is the condition of no rebirth, otherwise called ‘the gate of non-duality, the end of strife, the samadhi of universality’. Why so? Because it is ultimate purity. As it is free from the duality of selfless and otherness, it no longer gives rise to love and hatred. When all relativities are seen as non-existent, naught remains to be perceived. Thus is the undiscoverable Bhutatathata revealed.

This treatise of mine is not for the skeptic, but for those sharing the same view and following the same line of conduct. You ought first to discover whether people are sincere in their faith and qualified to practice it without backsliding before you expound it to them so that they can be awakened to its meaning. I have written this treatise for the sake of those having a karmic affinity with it.

[Tom – traditionally this teaching is advised only to be taught to those who are genuinely seeking nirvana/enlightenment, who are genuinely open to the teachings and who are potentially able to take the teachings on board and see them through]

I seek neither fame nor wealth. I desire only to emulate the Buddhas who preached their thousands of sutras and countless shastras just for the sake of sentient beings lost in delusion. Since their mental activities vary, appropriate teachings are given to suit individual cases of perverse views; hence the great variety of doctrines.

[Tom – Now Hui Hai will unfold the essential teaching:]

You should know that setting forth the principle of deliverance in its entirety amounts only to this – when things happen, make no response: keep your minds from dwelling on anything whatsoever: keep them forever still as the void and utterly pure (without stain): and thereby spontaneously attain deliverance.

Oh do not seek for empty fame, mouthing forth talk of the Absolute with minds like those of apes! When talk contradicts action that is known as self-deception; it will lead to your falling headlong into evil states of rebirth. Seek not fame and happiness in this lifetime at the cost of un-enlightenment and suffering for long aeons to come. Strive on! Strive on!

[Tom – the key advice here is not to stop early but to continue on your path – ‘Strive on! Strive on!’. Specifically the advice is not to start talking about this and turning this into a talking shop about the Absolute for those with busy minds who have no intention of putting the above teachings into practice. The cost of this is to miss the ‘goal of enlightenment’]

Sentient beings must save themselves; the Buddhas cannot do it for them. If they could, since there have already been Buddhas as numerous as grains of dust, every single being must by now have been saved; then how is it that you and I are still being tossed upon the waves of life and death instead of having become Buddhas? Do please realize that sentient beings have to save themselves and that the Buddhas cannot do it for them. Strive on! Strive on! Do it for yourselves. Place no reliance upon the powers of other Buddhas. As the sutra says:

‘Those who seek the Dharma do not find it merely by clinging to the Buddhas.’


Tom’s concluding comments:  ‘Strive on! Strive on!’ and ‘When things happen, make no response: keep your minds from dwelling on anything whatsoever: keep them forever still as the void and utterly pure (without stain): and thereby spontaneously attain deliverance.’

Ramana Maharshi, Vedanta and Zen: Q: ‘What method must we practice in order to attain liberation?’ (Chan Master Hui Hai)

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Let us compare some Zen teachings with that of Advaita Vedanta and Sri Ramana Maharshi.

Hui Hai was one of the great Ch’an (Zen) masters from the 8th Century CE. This excerpt is taken from Hui Hai’s Text on the Importance of Sudden Enlightenment, Dialogue 2.

I have interspersed quotes from Ramana Maharshi and Shankara in red type to compare and contrast the teachings:

Question: what method must we practice in order to attain liberation?

Answer: It can be attained only through the gate of sudden illumination (or sudden enlightenment).

Q: What is a sudden illumination?

A: ‘Sudden’ means instantaneously ridding yourselves of deluded thoughts’. ‘Illumination’ or ‘Enlightenment’ means the realisation that illumination is not something to be attained.

[Tom – This can also be translated as ‘Enlightenment’ means the realisation there is no ‘Enlightenment’ to attain, there is nothing to attain’. Compare this with : ‘The benefit of this Light of Supreme Truth is the understanding that there is not the least thing such as ‘attainment’, since the Supreme Self is the Ever-Attained One Whole.’ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Guru Vachaka Kovai, Verse 8]

Q: From where do we start this practice?

A: You must start from the the beginning, the fundamental root.

Q: And what is that?

A: Mind is the fundamental root.

Q: How can this be known?

A: The Lankavatara Sutra says:

‘When mental processes (hsin) arise, then do all phenomena (dharmas) spring forth; and when mental processes cease, then do all dharmas cease likewise.’

[Tom – compare: ‘If the ego rises, all else will also rise; if it subsides all else will also subside.’ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?]

The Vimalakirti Sutra says:

‘Those desiring to attain the Pure Land’ must first purify their own minds, for the purification of mind is the purity of the Buddha Land.’

The Sutra of the Doctrine Bequeathed by the Buddha says:

‘Just by mind control, all things become possible.’

[Tom – compare: ‘If only the mind is kept under control, what matters it where one may happen to be?’ Sri Ramana Maharshi, Who Am I?‘]

In another sutra it says:

‘Sages seek from [their own] mind, not from the Buddhas; fools seek from the Buddhas instead of seeking from [their own] mind.’

and

‘The Wise regulate their minds rather than their body; fools regulate their body rather than their minds.’

The Sutra of the Names of the Buddha states:

‘Evil/sin springs forth from the mind, and by the mind is evil/sin overcome.’

[Tom – compare ‘…man’s bondage is caused by the mind, and Liberation too is caused by that alone.’ Shankara, Vivekachudamani verse 172]

Thus, we may know that all good and evil proceed from our minds and that mind is therefore the fundamental root. If you desire liberation, you must first know all about the root, mind. Unless you can penetrate to this truth, all your efforts will be vain; for, while you are still seeking something from forms external to yourselves, you will never attain.

The Dhyana Paramita Sutra says:

‘For as long as you direct your search to the forms around you, you will not attain your goal even after aeon upon aeon; whereas, by contemplating your inner awareness, you can achieve Buddhahood in a single flash of thought.’

[Tom – compare: ‘Let people quote the Scriptures and sacrifice to the gods, let them perform rituals and worship the deities, but there is no Liberation without the realisation of one’s identity with the Atman, no, not even in the lifetime of a hundred Brahmas put together.’ Shankara, Vivekachudamani verse 6]

Q: By what means is the root-practice to be performed?

A: Only by sitting in meditation, for it is accomplished by Dhyana (Ch’an) and Samadhi (Ting). The Dhyana-Paramita Sutra says:

‘Dhyana and Samadhi are essential to the search for the sacred knowledge of the Buddhas; for, without these, the deluded thoughts remain in confusion and tumult, and the roots of goodness suffer damage.’

Q: Please describe Dhyana and Samadhi.

A: When wrong thinking does not arise, that is Dhyana.

When you sit and see your original nature, that is Samadhi, for indeed that original nature is your eternal unborn mind. In Samadhi, there is the natural situational response of no-mind, and the ‘eight winds’ do not function.

The ‘eight winds’ are gain and loss, calumny and eulogy, praise and blame, sorrow and joy. By practising in this way, even ordinary people may enter the state of Buddhahood. How can that be so? The Sutra of the Bodhisattva-Precepts says:

‘All beings who observe the Buddha-precept thereby enter Buddhahood.’

There are those who in this way have crossed over to the other shore and attained liberation, transcending the six rafts (the six Paramitas), and freeing themselves from the three worlds (greed, anger and delusion). The great power of the ‘Enlightened Ones’ is the infinite power of the Honoured, the Courageous, the ‘Conqueror’!

Some pointers for you from this week’s Satsang

We had a wonderful satsang on Thursday here in the UK. Thank you for those who attended. The teachings I share are not scripted, and I do not really have any fixed teachings of my own, so it is always interesting to me what teachings arise from ‘Tom’s mouth’ through the interaction of seeking energy with non-seeking energy.

Here are some points we discussed and some reflections that I hope you don’t mind if I share with you:

1. Most of the popular spirituality that is on the scene is that which benefits the ‘me’ – ie. it makes the ‘me’ happier and makes the me’s life easier. This is also known as self-improvement, self here referring to the limited identity as body-mind. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this – in fact it is actually quite good – this type of spirituality is limited in that it does not ultimately liberate.

Most of us in the group noted that we all spent a period of time in self-help type activities and we indeed found them helpful, and sometimes still do, but there was a point beyond which self-help was no longer helpful in easing our suffering. So, we left that paradigm behind and eventually stumbled onto non-duality and non-dual teachings/presentations which tackle the cause of suffering at its very root.

2. Teachings that are formulaic are for the ego, at least initially, and these are the ones that are easiest to comprehend and spread ‘en mass’, eg. we can create workshops and write books and teach others easily using formulaic methods. Again, without a genuine insight, these teachings alone do not ultimately liberate.

3. All teachings are eventually to be cast aside, otherwise we are bound to the teaching we carry around with us, and this itself becomes a subtle burden and perpetuates the ‘me’ or ignorance and the resultant suffering continues.

4. Are we not all seeking a deep sense of peace? Or a deep sense of fulfilment in which we are no longer burdened with the travails of life?

5. Do we not, each and every night, find this deep lasting peace in deep dreamless sleep, albeit unconsciously?

6. What does this teach us about the nature of peace and suffering?

7. When the egoic mind is no longer active, peace is all there is.

8. Teachings about awareness and consciousness can be very useful and liberating – but only to a point – these too are dualistic concepts that must be cast aside for liberation to be complete.

9. The mind, which is egoic thought, convinces us that the mind is required for our survival. But is this true?

10. It can be seen directly at some point that this ‘me’ which feels and thinks it is needed to survive is actually an addition that is not required at all. It is fear-based and causes suffering.

11. When the ‘me’ is no longer here, then all division and duality ceases. There is only Oneness. Even this concept of Oneness can be a hurdle – even the concept of Oneness is too complex – it also needs to be let go of when the time is right.

12. Trying to get this is more ‘me’, a subtle form of greed and fear which is trying to make life better for the ‘me’, just like point (1)

13. What is there to say? Can this and need this be put into words at all?

14. ……..

LOVE & SURRENDER

Never underestimate the importance of surrender or letting go of the ‘me’. It is the same as meditation or being still. It is something that is the natural result of insight into non-duality/no separation and is not something you have to necessarily do, although it may start off that way. It takes us to Love, total and ordinary Love. ❤

We could say that if you are doing surrender in order to become enlightened then that is more ‘me’ or egotism. It is totally fine to do this btw. However surrender naturally results when this ‘me’ and the control me neurotically tries to exert is seen/felt/realised to be totally unnecessary and therefore the ‘me’ is non-conceptually/non-verbally realised to be a waste of energy.

Many staunch non-dualists do not advocate surrender, as who or what is there to do the surrendering? I totally agree!

And yet never underestimate the value of surrender!

😂😂

When the heart is open, even slightly, it is easy to sense those teachers whose hearts are not fully open, whose hearts remain resistant to the naturally purifying effect of love, whose minds cling on to the ‘me’, and in whom the me energy (ie. egoic vasanas) continues despite their words saying otherwise.

❤🙏❤