Stronghold: 10 Jan 2010

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Student: [00:00:00] Would you say something about offerings?

Culadasa: About offerings?

Student: About offerings.

Culadasa: Sure. Why didn't you tell me why, what has triggered you to ask the question? What kind of offerings are you thinking of?

Student: I guess I it triggered in my mind this morning because I'm a PREA gave me a little thing. She got a GARCH and room for chaise about the seven offerings, the water, the, the incense and the things that, that you get when in Tibetan, Buddhism, really the water, the B you didn't sense the perfume.

And he had And I had stopped reeling my offerings. And and and then I began thinking about doing it again and how really good it made me feel. And then they said the DDS or whatever you're operating to don't need the offerings but it helps your generosity to to offer back all of these beautiful things.

And he had worked it out in the way of the seven of the six perfections and connected the offering each offering to one of the six perfections which. It's quite interesting

and what's,

Quite effecting to me. So I feel like I was, felt good when I was making offerings.

And then I stopped saying I'll just make some mental offerings and that's what I've been doing, but it's not quite the same in a way. There's something on, you're making physical offerings of food and flowers and perfume, human water, and all these things offering to all the five senses also.

And I dunno I just have been thinking about that and I just wondered what your take on it might be.

Culadasa: As you said, There are to know the offerings that you're giving are not for the sake of whoever, whatever is giving it to they are for your own site. And that is the most important thing.

And of course you can give offerings and especially when you do it very regularly and it becomes a very mechanical process and you're not, it loses all of its effectiveness. It just becomes this, mindless routine that you go through. But if you're mindful while you're doing it and I think maybe that's why you noticed the difference between making a metal offering and a physical offering, because your mind can go through the process.

Your mind can revert to a kind of automaticity. Very quickly where as it takes time to perform physical actions, to gather the materials together, to put them in inappropriate place and things like that. And that does give you more opportunity to remember what you're doing and and put the meaning into it, but even there, of course it's the repetition and the frequency that creates the danger, so to speak that it will become automatic.

Student: Yeah. So that's a mind can be a mindfulness practice and you're doing it mindfully. It's it is. It's something like the purpose of ritual is to put it, put what you're doing into. Body sensations so that it, it has more of a, an effect on you. What I've noticed, it has more effect on me than me just making the mental offerings.

It feels for me now, like making the mental offerings is a cop-out, okay, I'm gonna remember to give back, but okay. Here. Yeah.

Culadasa: and we find, everywhere in the world that the use of ritual offering, a huge part of all ritual is as offering and we find it everywhere in the world from the most spiritually sophisticated practice to the most naive, belief that some sort of magical result is going to come.

But when something is that [00:05:00] when you see something like that, so universally you recognize that it has something to do with the inherent nature of the way we are as human beings. And so when I think about that, when I think what is it why do we find rituals and ceremonies so useful and valuable?

What is there about us as human beings that makes that though. And I think anytime we come to a,

we come to a spiritual practice from a place of being involved in the world. And we have to make a transition. And when we're involved in the world, we are either divided in many directions because we've been busily engaged in, are multitasking and, juggling a bunch of things. Or if we're not, we're more likely obsessed with the anger and displeasure.

We feel about something or someone or they a desire and a that we have for something and how we're planning and plotting to fulfill our desires. And, or we're turned all of our attention into ourselves and we're feeling depressed and oh, poor me and wives, so we're either we leave.

They're very preoccupied with something that is. Peyton Leon wholesome or we're just scattered all over the place. And I think what ritual always does, it's a combination of physical actions and usually some sort of of chanting, like when we come here and we pay Onyx for the Buddha and we take the preset refuges and the pre-steps, this is an opportunity to draw the different parts of our mind together and shift out of our ordinary way of being who physically and psychically create a sacred space for the practices that are to follow.

And this is overtly the case and many ceremonies is now there's the creation of the sacred space, or it takes place in someplace that has been instead of silent at temple or church or so forth. And so we create our own. And then, especially if it's in your home, the altar is tends to be very much contaminated with your mundane.

I'm a way of being, you see it, it's there, it's part of the same world in which you worry about paying the bills and everything else. Any kind of ceremony or ritual can serve to help us to make that shift, not to draw the mind together and to refocus on a wholesome way. So I think that is the sort of universal function of rites and rituals.

And then the next step is, and in that is to tailor the particular right and ritual in the manner in which you perform it, and in order to be most effective and most consistent with. The worldview that we hold in terms of our practice. And that's where offerings comes into it. And I see, you can make offerings from a place of conviction that there is some kind of being who is going to grant you favors or provide you assistance or things like that.

And that's a worldview, that's a way of seeing things and that's how many kinds of offerings are done, but it's not how we do that. We did in recognition that the purpose of the offering is the same as the it's the same as the practice of generosity is, which is a reflection of, I don't know how Gretchen connected, the seven offerings on the altar to the six perfections, but I see all offerings as being.

An activity that is an expression of the perfection of generosity and in practice, the generosity and the practice of generosity is his cell. When you think about it, when I say it, it's a sort of it is in itself a sort of ritual. We go out in the world and we see opportunities to practice generosity of, whether it's money or time or effort, or just being a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen to somebody.

But when we practice generosity well at a deeper level, we can [00:10:00] see that

we're not really going to. Most of the time, we're not really going to change the world and our acts of generosity, or even have that much of an effect on somebody else. But every act of generosity transforms us and it helps to perfect us in this place of relating to others in a non separate non selfish way.

And so it's that same, it's the same principle it's applying, even when we make offerings and an altar, as they were tapping into that part of our nature that we want to bring to the surface, which is non-self standard and open and giving and inactive. So we make our offerings,

Student: Yeah.

Culadasa: To put ourselves in a different relationship to the universe.

That's how I would see it. And the more symbolic, and this is some rituals have become very elaborate. Imagine as you're adding more symbolic content you're putting more and more things into it that

and some people react to that by being put off that woman at Laguna beach had a phrase I've never been able to remember exactly, but it just made me laugh so much. She talked about having participated in some of the Tibet practices, and she said, It was the smell's bills and I pay Ryan Nell bills.

And y'all just, like she said, that was too much for her. She really white claims very much simpler, to each cause zone. And sometimes just the mental offering is not only enough, but maybe even more because there, as you pointed out the automaticity of a nipple offering can take hold even more quickly than the automaticity of going through the physical action.

But there's also another side to that too, that if you have the mindfulness and you put yourself into it totally, then you can, I, you can perform rituals. You can make offerings at a completely mental level. That are at least as deep, if not deeper than any external buying of them. I think the important thing with all rituals is that simple.

You do keep in mind the purpose and that, that doesn't, it don't let it become some, it's a waste of time. If if you're just doing it automatic and you're not really getting any benefit from being mindful, always,

Student: I think it's a part of gratefulness too.

Culadasa: It

Student: adds, or maybe comes out of gratitude or a feeling that you're just a human, you just, you're just a little above the animals in some ways, but you're grateful. Being having a human body grateful for all the things that you've have. So you want to get back in a way that seems like a lot of the motivation for it.

And I've been thinking about,

Culadasa: Yes, that's that's a good, especially when you, that is a little tweak on just making offerings as the gratitude.

Student: And

Culadasa: There's a kind of gratitude that we can have if we believe that there is some superior being to whom we owe gratitude for, for what we are and what we have,

Student: or

Culadasa: that there are powers or spirits or whatever, who can. Grant us more positive experiences and benefits and rewards in life or who can withhold that, or even cause us to, to suffer more.

But I think most of us all, I think all of us here probably don't think in those ways. So the gratitude is it's it approaches that more mystical idea. I don't know. I'll never know why I'm here and how it happens to be that I am this consciousness in this world and why I happen to have a particular experience does that.

I do, but if I'm wise enough to [00:15:00] be the beauty and the positive. The wonder that it is to be this conscious bank at this time, then I don't need to know to feel gratitude. The gratitude is a reflection, really, of

being able to be in the moment and to appreciate what it is to be a conscious thing to be on the other side of the coin, where, you're all caught up with the idea of how it could be better, how it could be different. Why me? Why is this happening to me? Why sucks? Everything's bad. I'm just going to be miserable.

And then I was going to die. And that

Student: gratitude for, I wonder

Culadasa: do well. That's part of the good fortune that we have, When you're in the highway is to have, the real teacher, your real guru is inside of you, and that's really something to be grateful for you and have the Buddha nature within you.

And if you think about the people that don't know that, then you're going to be gratitude. Now you can feel the gratitude for the fact that somehow or another, this Buddha nature in you has been a little more awakened, a little more revealed has, brought you to the place that it has, where you can, it's not the teacher outside you.

That is that important. It's the teacher within you. Then it makes you able to hear something. They, any teacher outside, you has to say, And the world is ultimately VR.

In a way, the world is the reflection of your internal teacher. So when you have a bad emotional week, that's your passion,

Student: or maybe at a, at the very end or at the highest level of it, you're making all these offerings to yourself that you're alive, that you're doing what you're doing. That you're able to experience all of these things.


Culadasa: When you say to yourself, but

Student: not to yourself now to yourself as is to your non-existent self, maybe, but to your. Consciousness to your, to the fact this, as you were saying, that you're conscious that you can be aware of that,

That there's something else that the regular life.

Culadasa: Yes.

Student: Yeah. I see it as being

Culadasa: part of everything. And that reported the everything. Yes. With that, the gratitudes

Student: that

Culadasa: this the, everything, the ultimate that which goes so far beyond the power of our mind and even our consciousness to perceive, but to be in that place. Total respect and wonder for it and grateful that

you are an instance of that totality that can reflect on the holistic entirety of it. The idea that each of us is vantage point from which the divine views itself

Student: then tune them that part of your rich,

Culadasa: the Buddha nature. Yeah. And

Student: It's a little

Culadasa: confusing for me to. Liberation can be something that, which you gain. Cause that would be a changing thing. Therefore you would lose liberation at some later point. So yeah, it could be obtained. It could be lost.

Yeah. So it must always be present if it, so it must be here now. And what part of you is already liberated and when you

Student: do certain practices and you feel like

Culadasa: for a moment or two, you just don't go and you've, such as doing a seminar on something on text reading prayers and says, get in touch with that part of you.

Riches already pure has always been pure and rest there for a while. And [00:20:00] it does feel like there's a short time when there's you just decide almost okay. I'm just gonna be in my natural liberated. And then you do it for 30 seconds and then the prayer continues and I is, am I fooling myself? I think I'm doing that.

Is it bad? Can you just simply decide to go and touch it? And what part of your,

Student: what part of the person is that?

Culadasa: That's

Student: slightly repeat what he said.

Culadasa: Pretty much just slightly.

Yeah. For the, yes. For the sake of the recording.

Student: Yeah. So

Culadasa: yeah, you began by, you began with the reference to the Buddha nature with NS and the fact that liberation is not something that is gained, that could be lost rather than yeah. It's resting in that place. And resting is the right word because there's letting go of all of the fabricating activity that, that winds is too.

It does resting in that in that true nature.

And then you're saying let me not try to repeat what you say so much. Just paraphrase the way I understand it, because that's going to have more to do with how I answer it. Okay.

Student: So

Culadasa: the question is when you have this experience, what part of when I have this experience, what part of ni the cell is having this experience? And is it just an illusion. Or is it real? And if it's real, what's the relationship between this experience, this nature and the self that I find myself experiencing again, when I'm no longer in that place, as I find out they're not quite it was more like, is it just another, is it a delusion that you

Student: feel that you

Culadasa: can just decide to go and touch that place, which is already free and, or are you're actually doing that?

Or are you asking again? Okay. Okay. So maybe this is it's very basic questions. Let me put it this way. The more we become aware of the truth of emptiness and that everything we experience is a construct and a projection of the mind. Then at some point. And that path, the question is bound to arise is a transcendent mystical experience.

Is the enlightenment experience any more real and less conditioned than any other experience or is it just one more kind of conditioned experience that feels a lot better? Would that, is that getting to it? Yes. Now that's a very good question. A very important question.

Student: And

Culadasa: a lot of thought has gone into that, both in and amongst the medieval Buddhist scholastics, and also amongst modern restaurant philosophers.

There, there is exactly this question that comes up. All ordinary experience is conditioned and the content of all ordinary experience is a projection by the mind. And it takes different forms with different people at different times, depending upon the conditioning factors. And this, we can take us as a universally agreed upon given, and this is what's called emptiness.


and it was a part of Buddhism, but it's also something that has been rediscovered and Western philosophy and Western science. And so the, it does very, definitely raised this question and mystical experience. This pure consciousness experience. The experience when the mind sees is fabricating.

And there is a direct experience of all combat reality of emptiness of the unconditioned pure consciousness experience is where there is no object and there is no self. And the person who has that experience has the experience of a liberation and it transforms their mind because in the future, they don't attach to the [00:25:00] reality of objects in order to the reality of fill in the same way.

So the transforming effect is unquestionably real that, people have undergone a transformation through these kinds of practices, but you still, you can ask yourself, you can say, and this is an interesting thing to entertain too. Is it good enough just from now on for the rest of mine personally existence, I'm going to be a at the compassionate being free from suffering and convinced that I have direct actor access to all printed vein, or do I need to know that this is in fact an ultimate truth rather than just a very much more comfortable and pleasant delusions and the ones that I've had in the past.

Right there, that in itself is a different kind of question, does it matter? But I think for most of us it does matter because if it is just another kind of delusion, then it can be lost. And that was really that's the heart of the questionnaire.

Student: The.

Culadasa: The kind of experience that we're talking about is different than the ordinary experience that we described us conditioned in a very fundamental way.

It is an experience that has no content or object in the normal sense of the word. And the entire spiritual practice involves a deconstruction of the normal way of knowing, taking apart a dismantling step by step of by normal way of proceeding the world. And we do that by there's basically two U tools that we use.

One is our ability to.

Perceives the constructed nature directly. And the other tool that we use is to see how depending on where our motivation comes from, that our perceptions make us suffer and make us behave in the ways that cause suffering to others or else they free us from suffering. And they cause us to behave in ways that do not contribute to the suffering of others.

And with all the other stuff we talk about, we're really applying these two kinds of tools and analysis and understanding and direct perception. And how does it make us feel and how does it make us act and how does that impact others?

So we go from a place of ordinary knowledge where we have. Sensitive itself and the objects that we know and interact with and the relationship between them, which is a consciousness of no and no word for that. And Paul used in Jada and Sanskrit his vision Ana as consciousness of its dualistic and all Vinyasa, all dualistic consciousness is inevitably conditioned and constructed by the mind it's dualistic.

But what we are talking about in terms out spiritual practice and the experiences that lead us to this liberation and transform the way the mind works so that we experienced a different kind of afterwards, is that we actually go beyond the dualism that we through our practice. Peel back the layers of mental construction until eventually, we find the sacred crack, the gap where we have the direct experience of being, and we have a completely different kind of knowing instead of the V Nana, which is dualistic and separate and constructed, we have the direct Nana, but the knowing that direct, immediate experience of knowing and in that and experience is the absence of construction that makes all of the difference.

That's, what's making all of the difference. It's not that your mind afterwards. Can't. I understand or encompass conceptually what has been known because that's antithetical fundamentally antithetical, as [00:30:00] soon as you start to describe it in conceptual terms, you've lost the essence of it, but people, nevertheless, we do describe it.

We describe it more in terms of what it's not than what it is. And of course, sometimes when we're not really clear on it, we'll attach positive descriptors and we will start to lose the essence of it. And then we will start to create a conceptual picture of whatever this experience we had was. But the experience itself, isn't real.

I think that when you analyze its nature and how we get there and. What is the results are it is a genuine way of knowing that is quite different from our ordinary way of knowing, because it is not dualistic. It is non constructing and therefore there's nothing to be conditioned. There's nothing to be subject to it.

There's nothing about it to be in a particular way that can be lost other than the fact that ordinarily the reason that we don't ordinarily experience ourselves as liberated, the reason we don't ordinarily experience ourselves experience our Buddha nature is that it is obscured by the constructing activity of the mind.

So the cause of the experience is the elimination of the obscuration and. When the experience ends and passes away, it's due to the re arising of the observations, but you see the fundamental, the ultimate truth that we see when the obscuration space has, does not began and does not end and is not dependent on, is not conditioned.

Student: Now,

Culadasa: in order to pursue this question and greater depth, am I getting to at watchful and boring for, I know I'll say not at all this. Yes.

Student: You said something it's not conditioned and it's not caused. What was that thing that wasn't conditioned or

Culadasa: caused the ultimate truth. That you have had a direct experience of

Student: it's not

Culadasa: dependent, it's not dependent. It's not conditioned. It didn't come into being, in other words, it's always been there.

It has all, it, it is there that has always been there. It will always be there. The only thing that is different is whether rather than there being this unique kind of knowledge, which is a direct experience of it. And by that it is a being of it. Ah, okay. All right. It's a being of it. And instead of a knowing of it, I fell, it's just a being right.

And of it is up here. A knowing of it is up here being with it is all of it being. Transcends all constructs such as the up here and out there and everything else. Okay. So yeah. That's okay. All right.

Student: Then

Culadasa: the, now we, the next place that we go with this, if we're, if you, the next place you go, where that is, if it's always there. And if that, if what is this other kind of knowing, and in fact, this other kind of knowing this direct experience, this knowledge that comes to being rather than objectivity is that must always be there as well, too.

And can we identify it? You can't. You can. And where are you going to find it is in something that is so subtle that it's elusive, as long as it's something that as long as we try to trait a chase down in a dualistic way, we'll always fail, but it's actually the failure that gives us the clue. And that can make us recognize that we do already have constantly this experience of a direct knowing even when the mind is [00:35:00] fabricating dualistically and that is consciousness itself.

You asked yourself, what is consciousness? If you meditate on consciousness, if you sit there and say, okay, I have this object and unconscious, but what does it mean to be conscious? And keep penetrating into that. Your first experience will be that you can never directly confront consciousness. It's still, and Western philosophers have noticed that done what they like most to do, create a, buy a proposition, which has taken to be like a divine law that they use.

And it's called the non reflexivity principle because a few very famous Western philosophers, Hume and Searle. I don't remember a few of them. I think spent maybe a few minutes at the most, a few hours trying to be conscious of consciousness. And they said it's impossible. Just as a sword cannot cut itself.

Consciousness cannot take itself as an object and. Created this non Reflexo reflectivity principle and walked away from it. But that's a big mistake because these intellectuals, the most common uneducated person on the street knows that they're conscious when they're conscious, right? It is so fundamental.

And if you think about that, except in terms of consciousness, nothing else has any meaning at all. The consciousness permits direct experience in the moment. And if consciousness is not present, it is only inference and construction. So the taste that we have, and it's just simply the fact that we know we're conscious.

And if you examine your consciousness, what is really interesting is you examine what happens to your consciousness when you go to sleep and in the different stages of sleep, and you will see that you have that consciousness undergoes these changes, but you'll see that the changes themselves are defined in terms of the content of consciousness.

You'll find as you go to sleep and as you wake up or as you're draining, or as you go into deep sleep, that really what is changing throughout all of this is the content. Of consciousness and qualitatively how it's experienced the clarity and so forth as you pursue consciousness, you actually find that, although there's no memory of it, consciousness is even present when you're in deep sleep.

And, but even before that, when you're conscious and when you're not right, so this is that this is the immediate, and this is the taste that you have. And really, and the kind of mystical experience that we're talking about, the direct experience and our mind ceases as constructing activity, we have a direct experience of ultimate reality in which the knowledge is the knowledge of being, what is.

And it means that consciousness is itself of the essence or the ultimate truth. That is no.

Student: If

Culadasa: you look at the words and the descriptions I've been mystics from any tradition, you'll find they're all trying to communicate. The same thing

I did is to very, the very essence of that experience

To the extent that it can be qualified in conceptual terms of

Student: what is

Culadasa: real and what is. Real, but nearly conditioned as ordinary experiences.

The answer to your question [00:40:00] is that this is an experience, which by its nature transcends the qualified conditioned reality that we're used to. And in terms of trying to rationally, understand them conceptualize, the most important thing to know is when to stop. And this is the point at which, it's important to know land to stop.

There is no where to go beyond the direct experience of being that is unconditioned. Now the question about whether it's truly unconditioned or not, that's a slightly different card. Okay, you can be meditating and you can have experience where there's nothing present and it may seem, ah, this must be good,

Student: but

Culadasa: it may not be because there are subtle degrees of both form and formless perception that remain.

So that

Student: with

Culadasa: the disappearance of a, I directly identifiable specific object of attention and other words, when there is no longer a flop form being generated or a sensation being attended to, there is the appearance of stillness and the. But there is still at an ad a little bit more subtle level. There is still a projection and construction of this is the mind observing the mental field, which is blank.

And it even carries with it. This sense of being located here in space, not over there and not over there and unfolding in time. And then from the blank methyl field arises the next thought, and we see it arise and pass away. This is an important place to practice and by doing so, and by not jumping to conclusions and by not assuming that there is no direct object, therefore I have reached the stage of an empty.

But to continue to observe, then the more you observed, the more clear that becomes that no, this observer and this blank metal field are themselves construction, right? And there's this whole mental state. I feel peaceful, joyful and happy while I am experiencing this dualistic light metal screen. And then it becomes clear, okay, I've made a big step forward, but I got further to go.

And you just have to keep following that path. At each stage when the content that exists at a particular stage becomes sufficiently clear and recognizable, then. It becomes possible to move to the next stage of the deconstruction and the MTN until eventually there is the point where

essentially it's the disappearance of the perception of self and an object and of time and of space.

Student: And that is

Culadasa: in terms of intellectual analysis, you cannot go beyond that now. And one of the important characteristics of experiencing that is that there's thesis to be Dell there, ceases to be the question of, all right, is this just another mental formation? Is this just another one? This is just like along the way we have these experiences, the experience of unity, I'm one with everything.

And it is a magnificent, wonderful experience. It's one that we need to experience along the way, because it is depth in the dissolution of the attachment to our separateness, but it's still constructed. So there are a lot of stages along the way. Very important, very valuable, but also with the potential for us to say at that point, ah, I've got it.

This is it. Yeah. But and

Student: that's,

Culadasa: it's all right to feel that way, but it's good to know that it's good to refer to all of those accumulated [00:45:00] teachings out of the masters that say, no, there's still. Yeah, but eventually you reached that point where you have no question that there is no further to go. And that is, I think that is ultimately the meaning when the Buddhist said that there is the overcoming of doubt.

That is the doubt. Maybe that's a more ultimate, right? It's enough when you get to the point where you're convinced I'm really onto a good thing. This path is really it's really working and it's really taking me somewhere worthwhile. Maybe you don't have to get to the point of knowing that this is the final and ultimate experience, a direct knowledge, a direct experience of emptiness.

You don't need to quite get to that.

So last, some point time pointing to the police. Isn't the place. That's right. Shit. I ain't going to find either the moon and start the moon.

Student: That's true.

To the experience, the subsequent knowledge. I'm just curious because I'm like, what is it? Nirvana is defined as the elimination of the mental afflictions due to, at least in the school that I was studying due to the individual analysis. After the direct perception of emptiness, meaning the analysis of the four noble truths.

Is that a universal experience after the,

Culadasa: Could you repeat that for me? And I'll repeat that here. Okay. So each step goes, she's a part of,

Student: oh, it's a pivotal experience. Being able to see what emptiness directly or have not experienced yes. Going in between the cracks. And my question is that my understanding is Nirvana is defined as the elimination of our mental sweatsuits, those obstacles due to the individual analysis of the four noble truths that are experienced after keeping in the crack.

Experience in important mobile groups is universal after the experience.

Culadasa: The experience of analysis is not universal. And the definition of Nirvana in terms of an analysis is not the most common definition of Nirvana. Okay. Isn't a four noble truths. Universal is that

Student: the experience is the intellectual understanding.

Culadasa: The ability to understand the four noble truths in a very profound way is the result requires relatively little analysis. Maybe the fourth truth requires. Analysis. And even

for that matter, we could by comparison of Buddhism with other valid spiritual paths leading to the same goal, we could regard the fourth noble truth as an extremely useful construct with certain universal characteristics to it. But it could certainly be stated in many different ways. The fourth noble truth is subject to being formulated in more ways than the eightfold path that the Buddha did would the one you're talking, what is it?

The fourth noble truth is the eightfold path. The first truth is the truth of suffering. The second is the truth of the cause of suffering. Which is craving. And the third truth is the truth of the cessation of suffering due to the cessation of craving, or just simply the truth of cessation. The fourth noble truth is the truth of the path to the cessation of suffering, which the Buddha formulated as the eightfold path, view, right on understanding rights, speech, action. Livelihood, effort, concentration and right. Mindfulness. Okay. So the eighth could be formulated in a variety of different ways because it's a construct, it's a tool means system so far, but

Student: the four are universal. And what, [00:50:00]

Culadasa: what characterizes all of human experience without exception prior to.

Awakening is suffering. So the first truth is absolutely universal and a very obvious way prior to awakening, or at least prior to engaging in a path to awakening a person might be in denial of that truth or trying to avoid it, or try to take a stoical sort of approach to it.

Student: But with awakening, the cause is

Culadasa: apparent and the cessation is a parent.

The two have come to the experience of If one has had the direct experience of emptiness and has had it in a context which can produce the changes in the way their mind works, then it's unmistakably clear to them that all the suffering I've had and all of the suffering that I might continue to have are the result of what, of the presence of the processes that I have just experienced the absence.

Okay. And so at that point, then the first three truths are completely self evident and that that there has been the experience of this knowing and this understanding and of the cessation, however, temporary of the constructing activities that lead to suffering, therefore. It is universally obvious that there is a path or paths there are paths.

So in that sense of four noble truth is completely comprehensible and self-evident, it requires a minimal of Anela a minimum amount of analysis, really hardly even qualifies as analysis at all. It's just attaching concepts. Or really not even attack modifying the existing concepts on the basis of the recent experience.

Aha. The concept of suffering aha. The concept of, cause the concept of cessation and the concept of path undergo or refine that. And so it's analytical in that sense, but the understanding it's not a process of sitting down and head-scratching well, if this, and then it's just more wow. Yeah, exactly.

Yeah. It's very, it's it's very direct now the Nirvana aspect of that,

Student: In the,

Culadasa: all of the ways that the Buddha spoke of Nirvana. We're always in terms of negatives, it is the cessation of great, it is without conditioning. It is the the uncreated, the unconditioned and the undying and so on and so forth. It's all the, and the dis and the knot and so forth.

And so Nirvana is a way of speaking of this direct experience that we're talking about because this direct experience occurs with the cessation of conditioning and with the cessation of the projections and with the cessation of the afflictions and with the cessation of the attachment to the view of self and the perception of others.

And so it is it is the experience of the absence of these, the constitutes the essence of Nirvana

Student: now.

Culadasa: Oh, I'm going on and on this morning when should I stop? And when should we meditate? You seem interested.

Student: Yeah,

Culadasa: I did. So have I addressed your year there

Student: in the,

Culadasa: The thing that a person needs to do it often you get the impression that to to have this experience of

cessation is all that's necessary. And once that happens it's all done, man, [00:55:00] everywhere. And

Student: and

Culadasa: my collecting of information from many sources about this, I'm coming to very strongly to some conclusions that are at variance with that. On the one hand, it seems that a person can undergo. Some of the transformation or not. So the essential transformations in their worldview without having recollect recollected, ever having had an experience of the stopping of the world.

On the other hand, there are people who seem to have that experience and it's a profound peak experience, which made some changes in them, but did not produce the characteristic transformation that the Buddha described us as stream entry.

Student: And

Culadasa: If it w if it occurred outside of some systematic practice, they are motivated to go and find a spiritual teacher and try to experience that again.

And, they've had a taste, but they haven't had the full cup.

Sometimes it comes within the context of a of a practice, but yet doesn't seem to, doesn't seem to produce the full effect. That's this is what I'm discovering. And traditionally it is said that when ha when has this experience call it, let's call it the direct experience of emptiness, but the Maga Paula or Darsana Margaret experience, that singular experience that you can point to traditionally, it said that it is very important to repeat that experience as often as you can.

Afterwards, because it is through the repetition of that experience, value progress to the next higher stages and and the awakening. So with the first stage, you still haven't overcome the, you've overcome the belief and the personal self, but not all of the habits of acting as though you were a personal, that you believed in the centrality of your personal self, and likewise, you still experienced desire and aversion.

So as you progressed, you. You desire and aversion weekend, then eventually desiring an aversion for all, everything to do with the world. This appears yet you're left still with the desire for separate existence and the sense of a personal self or not. So th the sense of a separate self is the sense of separateness.

And the combination of the process is with the overcoming of that sense of separateness. So there's still a long way to go. Even once one has had a direct experience of emptiness or the, if you've had that, and if you know how it came about, then the most important thing to do is to keep practicing and keep re-experiencing.


is your mind, is this vast complex? Conditioned thing with all of its programs and all of its past experiences and all of its information has been fed into it. And in a certain sense that's a very complicated system and you throw in a completely new experience, which is actually negating a lot of the the fundamental priest presuppositions that many of these mental processes are based on that.

It takes a while for the mind to reorganize itself around this new information.

What's that

the mind is the problem, but the mind is also the solution, but it's, this consciousness that we all.

Needs the mind and needs the body to fulfill its role such as it is. And as a part of the everything

on some level, I feel conscious.

I feel that what I'm conscious of is my illusions. Yes. Everything that you are conscious of is created by your mind, consciousness [01:00:00] of only exists as a function of mind. It doesn't want to be conscious of my illusions and simply want to be conscious. The illusions are a diversion, but what you want to come to see the place that we're there we're after is to be conscious.

Of our illusions, but know them as right to see them as they truly are.

Student: All right. I know

Culadasa: what carried away.

Added at Sept. 26, 2020
Recording date Jan. 10, 2010
Audio length 0 minutes
Original file name CS-01-10-10.mp3

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