What Is Enlightenment and Why Should I Care? Session 4
The purpose of the Eastern meditation traditions is to bring us to a completely new way of being, known as Enlightenment, Awakening, or Liberation. What exactly does this mean? And how does this relate to us, living as we do in a 21st century technological society confronted with problems that were unheard of even a generation ago.
Here we explore the relevance of this 2500 year old Path to Awakening to ourselves, the practical attainability of its goals, and to come to an understanding of how meditation, concentration, awareness, mindfulness, and Insight that we have been cultivating as a part of our daily practices are woven together to make up this Path.
Play the recording below or right click here to save to your computer. (1 hour 27 minutes)
Note: Upasaka Nandaka is using a tool called Descript to create machine-generated transcriptions of some of the talks on the TMI Archive (at a pace of up to 30 hours of audio a month). The following is one such transcript. If you’d like to help edit them for accuracy and readability, please see this Google Doc for detailed instructions: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YxweiCr1N4YXY3Bn1mTzPBp811hTGolKroJS_RCMqo0/edit. Any editing contribution, no matter how small, is appreciated. Please remove this notice when the transcript has been fully edited.
Culadasa: [00:00:00] Let's talk about skeptical doubt.
I said, one of the things that I hope to accomplish over the course of this weekend, hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew is for you to get a clearer understanding of what enlightenment is about. I would like to demystify it is I mystical experience by nature, but it is enormously over mystified.
And so if I can demystify it and make it more understandable, then perhaps I can help you to diminish sunlight, your doubt, that there is that such a thing as possible. And especially that you can't attain it. And likewise in the process. Yeah. I think if I can succeed and this demystifying it, I will actually make it easier for you to attain it because you won't you won't be going in so many wrong directions with it, or have expectations that get in your way.
So it's important to talk about the skeptical doubt. The interesting thing of course, is that, if, when you have undergone that transformation, that represents strain mentoring of course you've had it at that point. You don't have doubt anymore. You've had the experience, you've had a taste, you look at yourself and over as I said, you have to keep in mind that the experience itself is not definitive, but the changes that take place, but when you start to notice.
And yourself how you've changed then Dell, this period is when you reflect on how you saw things in the past and the effect that it had on you and how you see things now and how different it is that helps to it goes beyond helping that very much eradicates doubt,
but prior to,
Culadasa: Achieve extreme entry yourself, understanding it, which I hope we can make a lot of progress in this weekend is an important thing to help over you're coming down. The other thing is to be able to recognize enlightened beings in the world. If you have a question yesterday, really such a thing, or existence kind of fairy tale that you know,
Exactly on par with, if I go to church on Sunday, when I die, I'll go to heaven.
Is this something that, I'll never know an experience because it doesn't really exist. I know some of you, that question comes up. Sometimes you really believed that you wouldn't be here if you didn't have some confidence in it, but other times the doubts must come up.
So if you could see people that seem to manifest the characteristics and behaviors of enlightened beings, that helps enormously because at the very least you can say to yourself for sure, I wouldn't mind having those kinds of, I wouldn't mind being more like that person yet. And they are around all the time.
I'll tell you something interesting that just, it happened that night before that. I read an interview with Leonard Cohen and the Shambala sign from November of 2007. Everyone knows who Leonard Cohen is. I believe. Yeah. Leonard entered my life back when Suzanne took us down to her place by the river.
Culadasa: never met, it's been a part of my life ever since. And also about 40 years or so I go Leonard became interested in Zen Buddhism and actually for most of that 40 years, he many years did a three month retreat at Mount Baldy. And then he spent about eight or nine years as a bunker full time, not Baldy.
Culadasa: was that period of time where we didn't hear much from him, but, with them that introduce really interesting is the changes that occurred in him. He did a concert in London it's available on DVD. Have you seen that and how totally different he is than the person he used to be? I knew can look and say, Aw, that's how an enlightened being does a music concert in London[00:05:00]
Culadasa: oh, you've heard it. Okay. It's really something to see his face, to see how he behaves, to hear the things that he said. And yeah, it's quite wonderful. And then I read this as I say, it was just the other night I read this interview in Shambala sun. And you read that and if you go back to this, these descriptions in this handout here that I gave you what is an enlightened being life?
There is a profound realization of living fully in the present moment. You really get that from the way he talked that deep sense of relaxation that arises from understanding that there is nowhere else to go, nothing else to do. The magnet hit him D and spaciousness is observed as compared to the finite limited nature of the individual cell.
And so on, so there are beings that you can look at and add Leonard Cohen would be one of them in his current manifestation. And you can look at and say at the very least That would be a nice way to be
And there are many others and it helps to be on the lookout for them. The Dalai Lama is you can't go wrong. Looking at the Dalai Lama, examining his situation and saying, wow, if I could be like that, if I could deal with what he has to deal with, I do it where they eat out.
So these are ways that help, but that you have to have this understanding as long as it sounds like something you have possible reachable your confidence in it. It's not going to be be very strong.
Culadasa: I think that, that
Culadasa: impression that's been created. About it has partly come from good intentions in order to motivate people,
strive diligently to attain their own awakening, but it has had an unfortunate effect of making it sound like something that I'm not sure anything is really possible. And even if it is according to what they're saying, it might take me a hundred thousand lifetimes and all the advisors in a way that's so different than I do now that you can't see a that.
And so that, that hasn't necessarily served everyone quite spelled out. I certainly think that
Any human being has the potential to become enlightened, to at least the first stage of enlightenment.
On this what, how do you view the tobacco and Buddhist view
Culadasa: of the full , which seem
very different from
Culadasa: a ship that may seem very unattainable compared
Culadasa: it's expressly
mentioned therapy, let's
Culadasa: ship, user stage on the way to go to video,
still this, these other
Culadasa: levels to grow
You were saying
Culadasa: qualities which are listed here, like a missing it's like being able to see all three times in one
moment, these are
Culadasa: attaining your buddies of large will these kind of things, which you haven't mentioned, it does not fit into all these things. They're elaborations of the idea. Yeah, Simon sung Buddha.
So this where you're calling full and man, it would be the summer some food. And there I think that it's, I think it is a serious error to posit that there is any difference between the enlightenment itself of an aha and assignments, but it's indefensible in terms of the doctrines of Buddhism and themselves.
But the idea that the idea of the son on Buddha is that over tremendous numbers of lifetimes, that there has been this process of perfection that gives rise to pain who has a much greater power. To benefit other beings than an Arcot does. And that's the idea of basically right there is that if now there's all sorts of technical contradictions and things like that when you look at it because there's assumption that somehow our hunt ceases to exist after it becomes fully enlightened and the body dies and it's gone, whereas [00:10:00] a bodhisattva who hasn't become an RN that can be reincarnated as basically the same thing over and over again for hundreds of thousands of lifetime. And until it becomes a sign of some Buddha
Culadasa: all of these different teachings serve a purpose in one form or. To are intended to help people and in their path. I think that the first mistake to make is to assume that any of these metaphysical descriptions are true, they're all empty. They're all ways of looking at things. And as ways of looking at things, they can be looked at in different ways that are equally valid.
And so to ask the self to yourself, the question is that Tibetan view, correct. And is some other view mistaken? This is not a very useful
question on now.
Culadasa: You said the, our hunt is a stage on the way to fully enlightened. Heard that particular doctor and usually the one that you encountered Mahayana is that if you become an, our hunts all over with, you've lost your chance as though there's a self-consistent personality that goes through to these lives and that one blew it.
on the other hand,
Culadasa: there is an equally valid way of discussing and thinking about those intellectually to say that, okay, if the self that we think we are is an illusion, and if an enlightened being and our hot reapplies realizes that our hot, neither ceases to exist nor continues to exist at the time of the death of the body and the dissolution of the mind.
Culadasa: aggregates were all that manifested and that's all that passed away. But the Buddhist said that continually was they karmic predisposition as the karma, the interconnected karma, which passes on and continues just as in the world of appearances. All that is material is interconnected and everything affects everything.
A modern physics tells us that two electrons that were separated, went opposite directions at the time of a big bang are still connected in a way such that what happens to one of them now on one side of the universe effects, what happens to when, on the other side of the universe? So if the word in the world of appearances, the science of physics tells us that everything material is totally interdependent and Andrew.
Why should we assume that, which is whether you call it spiritual or mental doesn't matter, whatever the realm is that these Karnak predispositions occupied is any less. So everything has consequences. We were told that the Buddha that an enlightened being creates new, no new karma for himself, but that the did the actions of the vote after his enlightenment have consequences.
So literally this question I of course, and continues to have and will continue to have.
Culadasa: what we're really discussing when we talked about our hearts versus sinus and Buddhas and bodhisattvas and so forth is metaphysical descriptions of the way. Reality unfolds and all they are is ways of our mind to conceptualize and create constructions to help us to understand that in useful ways.
And I feel all these different sets of constructions that may appear to be contradictory to each other are they're just that they're just construction is one is no more correct. Are incorrect than another. They were created to serve a purpose. And that purpose is limited to the realm of conceptual formations.
So as a part of a body of teaching,
Culadasa: the view of the bodhisattva reincarnated over hundreds of thousands of eons to become a samosa on Buddha. That's the conceptual construction that serves a purpose within a particular [00:15:00] context. And if it's helpful, And if it's an essential part of the context in which you're practicing yet, then embrace it to the degree that you can.
And to the degree that you can let it be, it's not necessary,
The nature. And if anything that we have to say, in a more general sense is true about enlightenment and Buddhists. Then these are not problems that we need to concern ourselves with that we, if everything is interconnected, if we are all one, if the only thing that continues is that those perfections that have come into being
Culadasa: psychophysical entity, one collection of aggregates, They are going to continue and their power is going to continue to evolve.
As, as long as there are beings coming into existence and going out of existence,
I can accept that become enlightened
Culadasa: in this lifetime. Be a bodhisattva practice, Bodhi, Chita. I think that is the message. What disturbs me is when I hear these teachings put in the form of you don't want to become enlightened because, because becoming enlightened is selfish and it keeps you from becoming I fully enlightened being who can help other, all other beings throughout all of eternity.
Instead, I'd like to say, become enlightened for the sake of helping all other beings in this form that you're in as much as you possibly can. And trust that, that as a part of the ultimate wholeness, whatever it is that's not going to end with the dissolution of your body and mind, and it can take on any number of forms and any number of different ways.
So it's a wonderful ideal that I am willing. I am willing to strive however long and however diligently it takes, even if it is hundreds of thousands of lifetimes, that is a beautiful motivation to hold in your human heart and to conceptualize with your hand.
But it's a terrible thing. If that thought in your human brain causes your heart to turn to hopelessness and dread. And this is an impossible thing. I can't do this better. Go have a beer and find your girlfriend.
become a string, a tray, or a once returner or a non-return and then decide whether you don't want to take a chance on
one of the things that's come into my awareness
a lot lately,
Culadasa: like over and over is the teaching that enlightened. If you believe that it's somewhere else, like it's somewhere out there and you're seeking it. You're the,
Culadasa: You're not doing, but you're going to be fine. You're not going to get it until you give up that idea.
So can you talk about that a little bit?
Culadasa: what I'm saying. When I say do to, we need to get rid of all of the mistaken ideas that get in their way. If you think of enlightenment as a as something to be something that you don't have that you need to have or something that's someplace else that you need to go to that other place, then those concepts are going to be limiting.
It is right here. And now it's ceasing to be diluted about the way things are. It is not getting something you don't have. It's getting rid of something that stands in the way of you recognizing what you already have and what you already are.
Culadasa: The truth that we're talking about is it's not somewhere else and it's not some other time it's always right here and it's right now. And it's the question of realizing it and recognizing it the the Buddha nature, when we say the Buddha nature is in you It's not something that you're going to get from somewhere else.
It's an awareness.
Culadasa: It's the it's the true nature. It's the ultimate truth. It's the ultimate truth when all of the delusions are gone and yes, it does have this one positive characteristic of awareness or consciousness. Other than that, all of the descriptions of it are pretty much limited to saying what those, what it's not.
And all of the things that it's not are the things that are our conceptual formations that are what our mind is doing to truth. One way to understand enlightenment is that it is the cessation of the activity of your mind that keeps you from recognizing. Things as they really are. And, last night we talked about you mentioned deconstruction of personality.
And I said that the meditation process and the process of enlightenment involves deconstructing the cognitive processes that keep creating our perception of things the way they are. That is the delusion that we're talking about. That even when we say ignorance in a way maybe we should say illusion instead of ignorance, because the ignorance that we are overcoming, or the delusion we are counting is the one that's created by our mind, because it helps bodies like ours create more bodies like ours, that behave in ways that create more bodies like ours.
Culadasa: Could there be a clear expression of the the endless cycle of birth and death, Samsara the wheel of Samsara then what we all do. We come into this world program, born to reproduce and die so that our offspring can reproduce and die so that their offspring can be born, reproduce and die ad infinitum.
That is the wheel of Samsara. And it's not even that there is a bad thing, but organisms, are born, reproduce and die. So their offspring will do the same. That is the way the material universe evolves conscious and spiritual.
Culadasa: we occupy at least in the part of the universe that we see, we occupied this very special
We no longer need to
Culadasa: continue in that delusion. We no longer need to act out of the compulsion's of desire and aversion, and we no longer need to suffer. We can stop
digging the path
Culadasa: and even having stopped doing that, we can still allow others of our kind to come into existence,
Culadasa: we can create a world in which these new rebirths are able to.
Just as we have transcend their ignorance can ascend their slavery to innate compulsion's and to rise above the world of suffering that otherwise characterizes the human condition.
We need to do that to
death. I have a question
Culadasa: that I think I've been working over for a while.
Pam brought it back to my mind when you talk about, or when they talk about it as this potential that
Culadasa: exists, there seems like there's two ways to understand that it's a potential that all sentient beings have,
and that can be realized through this.
Culadasa: But another way, I'm wondering, is it something that can be realized to a degree, even along the [00:25:00]path at any stage that the real quality of that budding nature cannot be felt into at any point in the path? Or is it something that you only really get into that to any degree after stream entry, like really recognize what this Buddha nature is, what it feels like, how to
act through it.
Culadasa: You're asking, can we tap into that Buddha nature at any time? Is that, and along the path, or assuming that Navy, even some stage in the path, you can start to get a taste of that, but it doesn't take this
mother Paul experience to actually
Culadasa: any degree. Yes. At any time, has it, matter of fact, we, all, the Buddha nature is always there and it comes through in many forms from time to time.
Genuinely altruistic and compassionate behavior comes from, are in a Buddha nature. And we all have a little experiences of wisdom that goes far beyond what we normally understand and what we ever are aware of having learned anywhere else. And that's the Buddha-nature coming through. It's always there how deeply it's buried.
It depends on the burden of the afflictions and defilements that you have in your mind. And and even there, even with some huge burden of afflictions and defilements, there can be those moments where they get out of the way long enough for that Buddha nature to through. So it's not something that is, is only know after string.
But the important thing about stream entry and about in enlightenment is changes take place, permanent changes take place in the way the mind works. And that opens up all of the new possibilities.
Culadasa: is important about the definition of string entry? And we didn't even get to the point of talking about that yet, but I know you all read about it, right? And so we don't have to keep following this order. We can we'll work stream of consciousness here.
Culadasa: it. It's not defined in terms of an experience in the sutras. As a matter of fact, you really have to go to Buddha's teachings that want badly for there to be such a thing as an enlightenment experience, to discover it in there. It is spoken of predominantly as a permanent change in the way that a person is okay.
A stream detriment is somebody who has a change in views and a change in attitude and a change in behavior. It is not a person who has had a particular kind of experience
Culadasa: obviously for a permanent change to take place like that. There is some point that you can say before that the person was this way.
And after that the person was. And something has permanently changed. Subjectively experientially, the person who has undergone this transformation, whether it happened in some amazing, profound experience that lasted for a moment or for 20 minutes or whatever it was, whether it's a result of that or
Culadasa: they can't quite pinpoint when and how it happened, it doesn't matter.
But the person recognizes, they reflect and say, I'm seeing things differently than I used to. And for some, interestingly enough, that only comes through that dawns on them when they see how other people are reacting. And they said, that's what I used to do. I don't do that anymore. Or something happens and they recollect how they would have react.
And then they think about it and they realize I see things differently than I used to. Something has changed. And maybe it's it's described by some, as being a rewiring of the brain. And when it does happen in a sudden event, which it does for many people especially nowadays, because the whole orientation of the Dharma teachings in the trainings nowadays is towards bringing about this dramatic event.
And so naturally a lot of [00:30:00] people who are successful had that experience, but that's what it's like. It's afterwards is wow. Something happened. I am changed. It's something went in and rewired my brain. And now the way my mind works is differently. If I'm reacting to this. And I can see that it used to create this feeling and this attitude.
And instead now it's different.
Culadasa: when that change takes place, it's much easier. All of the things that you do on the path towards stream entry, you'll need to continue working on, but it's so much easier now. And the results of the work you do is so much more dramatic. It's still a continuing process, but,
Culadasa: if we look at virtuous virtue versus non virtuous behaviors, yeah.
The street entrance still engage in non virtuous behaviors. There is a. But I think comes out of the monastic environment as somebody who becomes enlightenment and lightened in a monastery. And they spent, who knows how many years strictly following the winning the code of discipline. It may be that all the minor transgressions that they used to be subject to, they're no longer subject to there isn't a death at the stream detriment, it has perfect virtue, but if you look back at what the Buddhist said he didn't talk about string naturals, having perfect versary.
He talked about straight natron when they when they engaged in some transgression, recognizing it and making a man's and doing their best, not to do it again. And this is the kind of thing. It terms, there is a change, a way of putting it is. There is now a new moral compass that is internal. Instead of external, a person is no longer functioning from the set of rules that says, don't do this.
And don't do that because a change has taken place inside me. There's no longer the same degree of attachment to the cell. And there is no longer the same degree of innate inclination to put one's own interests above somebody else, or to tolerate the suffering or experience of injustice or something else by someone else.
One sees oneself. And once he's others in much more equitable way before the result is that you don't need to follow external rules not harming, not engaging in fault speech, which none of us like to be like. Not engaging in harsh speech, not engaging in devices, speech, and so on and so forth. Those are now your following of those precepts now is not because you have a list of rules that you've committed to follow, but because your heart in your heart, it no longer makes sense to do those kinds of things.
Now you will still make transgressions out of habits. And the stream metric presented with the right circumstances might engage in harsh speeds. But the difference is that the string entry now, before they became a stream metric, they already had to have been working on their virtue. They already had to have been practicing mindfulness and trying to recognize when they did such a thing and to not do it or to make amends for it.
The difference now as a stream entrant, that's all coming from a much deeper place it's coming from the way, the mind processes reality instead of a set of rules outside and by which following, which I hope that I will become and enlightened beings someday it's coming from in here. And so when it happens that degree of mindfulness that Greece, the rising of the inclinations of the intentions behind the actions it's immediate, right.
And it is far more likely to stop it in the act, or if it fails to act that quickly, it's going to recognize fairly soon afterwards. Oh, wow. Look what I did. Let me see what I can do to take care of that. Let me see what I can do about. This is the kind of change that we're talking about, making it ourselves, right?
We want to rewire our brains. And as you note, what's been discovered is [00:35:00] that our brains are very plastic and they actually can be rewired in amazing ways. What we're talking about doing here is we have over our life constructed an idea, the idea of self, the conceptual cell, and we have this inherent sense of self and those two acting together have served as the the I say the focal point or the what we also have these instincts for desire and aversion that it to the craving.
And so these have served as they, as the focus for how desired and aversion arise and how they manifest. This is how we've been programmed. What's happening to the stream intranet. Is we all through that programming, so that now desire and aversion when they take their room in the idea of who, what we are and the sense of self that root is so much weaker now, because the mind no longer believes in it's created idea of self in the same way.
And so it makes it so much easier to deal with any. So the same thing with suffering or suffering is reviewed in that, in the fact that the mind creates suffering. The idea that I suffer you suffer, that's a false description, your mind, or my mind has neurocircuits that flood the brain with a certain kind of electrical activity that we subjectively experienced.
This. And those circuits are activated when certain combinations of events happen and, the brain processes information and some part of the brain, basically you could say makes a decision that's the appropriate time to generate the feeling of suffering. See what I'm saying? So suffering is something your mind does.
It served an evolutionary purpose. When you felt suffering, then you took some action to relieve your suffering, which is usually an action that, that improved your survival or enhanced your ability to reproduce and to raise your offspring. So it's all part of that same thing once again, but suffering is just a thing that the mind imposes on itself.
And when you change the way the mind works, That you have changed, first of all, the likelihood that the mind is going to create this sense of surfing. And secondly you create the possibility that when the mind does create suffering that other parts of the mind, can't look at this and say, this doesn't need to happen.
We can let go
Culadasa: So that's what we're doing. That's, it's, we're changing the way our brains work. We're changing the way our minds work, and we're creating a possibility to change even more the way our brains and minds work when we cease to be when our mind ceases to believe so firmly in the product of the eye, making part of the line, you could have rusted us hypothesize that there's a part of the mind, and maybe even a part of the brain that we can say is primary fund.
I making it tells the story of our lives and it stores the story of our lives and defends the story of our line. And he wants to see things happen that support and maintain the ongoing story of our life. So that's the part of our mind that is the iron making part of our mind.
And that I making part of our mind and the inherent sense of self that we have this built in at a really deep level.
We wanted to find it in the brain. It's probably way down there. And those deep structures that were formed in very primitive verdict Virta grits a long time ago, and we still carry them with us. So the. And the most recent thing would be this part of the I'm making part of the mind that creates the story of who we are.
I doubt if lizards tell themselves the story of their life to a lot more than we do, right?
So you've got that. And then you've got a brain that has all of these emotions and, the, you know what instincts, our instinct is a program that's built in that every time the stimulus comes up, exactly the same behavior comes out [00:40:00] of it. And then on the other hand, human beings can act in a way that's purely based on reason rash.
We can analyze the situation that we've never encountered before that maybe no human being has ever counted. Brand new situation and we can evaluate it and we can choose a particular action at that we feel is appropriate to our analysis of the existing situation. So here we have two ends of a spectrum behavior that arises out of pure reason and behavior that arises out of a pure instinct.
Emotions are something in animals that can learn and change. There's some animals, everything they do is instinct. They have no capacity to learn anything. They have no capacity to analyze a new situation, but a lot of these animals also don't have anywhere near the kind of capacity we have for analysis and reason.
So they being equipped with this whole array of emotions that get triggered by certain factors and then inclined them to behave in a certain. They're like instincts, but they're more flexible than instincts and they depend not like an instinct, with with certain tropical fish, the male, when he sees a particular shape with a red spot on it immediately goes and mates with it, no matter if it's a piece of plastic or what it is, the instinct and he's trying to keep track.
And the instinct is if something has a rougher, roughly oval shape or the red spot on it, you do your best to date with it as a pure instinct. And so with emotions, it's not so rigidly confined to a certain kind of visual or other stimulus, but rather the mind processes experience and. Triggers and emotion, it will trigger anger.
It will trigger hatred or will trigger desire or through your trigger loss. So this is what our emotions are. And then behaviors come out of that. And the behaviors aren't, we had tropical fish, they always do the same thing. They swim in the same circles. They blow the same bubbles, it's the mating ritual is always exactly the same, but with emotions that push us in a particular direction, but there's still a lot of flexibility yet.
How would we behave? If we get angry, whether it was shout or whether we grabbed something and you know who we get, and sometimes we restrain ourselves. So there's some plasticity there and how emotions are acted out. So there's somewhere between reason and instinct and they serve a lot of animals really.
As long as the emotions you equipped with and the things that triggered those emotional reactions
Culadasa: towards your survival and reproduction more often than they fail, then the tendency for those emotions to be continued is going to be there. And so you look at the way, organisms who have emotions as part of their behavioral apparatus, you can see, oh, this is an evolutionary device, and it doesn't have to work all the time and it doesn't have to make the organism happy.
It doesn't matter if 40% of the time it results in the organism dying, as far as mother nature's. It works 60% of the time. And so it's going to be continued, right? And it doesn't matter how much suffering or unhappiness the individual organism experiences as a result of this, or even how much collateral damage comes from this behavior.
As long as the end result, as long as the net result favors the multiple patient, an increase of the organism that manifests these behaviors, right? That's all that's necessary. So here we are, we find ourselves human beings with an ego self and within it with this deep inherent sense of our secretaries.
And we're equipped with a bunch of emotions that basically they all come down to one form or another manifestations of craving and desire and aversion,
And of course our moms. Goads itself into behaving in certain ways, by January rating, feelings of happiness or feelings of suffering. So that's what
we, that's what
Culadasa: you are. You're a neurological device, which will make itself either happy or miserable depending on whether or not it seems to [00:45:00] be fulfilling the desires, satisfying the desires and aversions related to its own idea of what it is as itself.
And the first
Culadasa: stage of enlightenment you deal with one of the easiest components of this it's that it's think of it as the newest and most superficial one, this belief, and this construct that your modern human prefrontal cortex has created of the self that you are. And this unlocks the key to get to the others in the next two stages of the once returner and the non returner.
You work on changing the way, the mind functions at the level of craving and aversion.
Culadasa: As a stream entrance, as you work on yourself and as things become clearer, there comes a crystallizing point where basically you realize that this mind of mine is existing in a series of mental states, which are constantly changing. And every now and then one arises, which is truly wholesome and wonderful, but the rest of them are all flawed.
They're all contaminated by some degree of desire and aversion. And
Culadasa: This focus on changing that.
Culadasa: words, it's a kind of desire. This stream entrant desires to have only wholesome mental states and to be free of the unwholesome mental states.
Culadasa: then there is a new transformation and other transformation that takes place in their mind where they become a once returner and they have eliminated desire and aversion, but desire and aversion has lost its compulsive power.
They still experienced as our version. It's still rises, but it is no longer this almost hopeless struggle. And if you succeed in. Succumbing to desire on this occasion, it's going to get you on the next one sort of thing. This stream entrance still is experiencing that, but the non returner and, I gave you a description in there.
The intermediate stages of non-return once you return to page 15, even with the second path attainment, the stage returner is with great wonder and awe and amazement that one realizes the remarkable degree to which ordinary desires and aversions have mysteriously disappeared and simply don't arise in the same way they once did.
And there is this experience of surprise and wonder in spite of all the practice that has been engaged in specifically to attain freedom from basic elections, because it's not something that has been brought about through the wheel or intention is the result of a profound, inner shift occurring at an entirely non-conscious level that comes about through repeatedly creating and sustaining the right causes of.
In other words, the brief brain rewires itself, again, in another way. And now those desires and aversions are still there, but they are so much easier to deal with.
And then the next days of the non-readers is achieved when Ziar send aversions for the material world for pleasures and pains, ordinary time has been overcome completely.
The thing is that
Culadasa: unhappiness happiness is a kind of dis satisfaction. [00:50:00] Happiness is satisfaction and okay. Craving exists, desire and aversion exist. When you want things to be different than the way they are. You're in not in a place of acceptance of what is. And so craving is the result of dissatisfaction or dissatisfaction as a result of craving or dissatisfaction, creating are so closely intertwined that it's hard to separate them from each other.
And so craving dissatisfaction. If you have no desire and aversion, you have no dissatisfaction, you'd have satisfaction, you have happiness. And that happiness is not, is no longer. So subject to what happens to you and what you get or what you lose, right? So this is what's happening. And this third stage there's a non returner.
Now the non returners still has. So what we've done here is we've taken care of at the conceptual level of our attachment, to our personality view of our ego self as being real, and that part of the brain hasn't stopped functioning. We can still separate our laundry from somebody else's and pay our bills and do everything else, but we're not attached to it in the same way.
Or then we moved on and we progressively overcame the slavery to the compulsion of desire and aversion. And when we did that, we achieved a kind of happiness that is now pretty rocks. What we're left with is this very deep inherent sense of being a separate self. And we are still vulnerable to a particular time to sulfuring that is related to the attachment to that feeling of separateness.
Culadasa: is a craving for continued existence in this form. There is while there is no longer
Culadasa: craving for the pleasures of the flesh, but sensory pleasures of the world, we no longer have the same degree of compulsion to pursue. Sensory pleasures or the admiration and Adelaide of others and so on and so forth,
Culadasa: still a craving for certain more refined things.
How we call a fine material realm and in material around, these are the things of the sphere of the mind itself.
We are a consciousness with a mind and a mind of contents, and we're attached to that. And so this is their remaining vulnerability. This is our remaining craving. It's our remaining source of suffering. It is our remaining source of alienation from the rest of the world. We have a lot of compassion because all of the mental energy that in an ordinary person goes into the suffering craving.
That same mental energy as you achieve more of a sense of oneness and less of a sense of being a thing, the self that needed constant cherishing and attachment that same energy then goes towards compassionate. But the lawn returner doesn't have the fully developed totally compassionate of an arm hot because they still have the inherent sense of self and they're still attached to it.
Culadasa: oh, I forgot to bring my book in here. I'd really like to read to you a quote from it said it's in my computer bag under the one of the sutras from from a monk named Kevin Monica, who was an honorary.
Why the term non-return
Culadasa: all the non-return are, comes from the this is somebody that never had, it will never be reborn on the in the sense that in the human life that they will experience add most one rebirth and the heaven, realms aggravation from which they [00:55:00] will.
I thought returning is a choice.
Culadasa: First of all, you have to formulate your ideas in a form that makes returning a possibility. Okay. And so what return is not the personal self. Okay. And we can talk to her about, I just want to see this.
This is a non returner
Culadasa: question by elders. The elder came, Makkah said I do not fall. I do not see in these five categories effected by cleaning in these five aggregates. I do not see in the spot of areas, any self or soul property yet I am not in our hunt with taints exhausted on the contrary.
I still have the attitude I am with respect to these five categories. These five guys, although I do not see, I am this with respect to them, I do not say I am for, or I am feeling or I am perspective. Or I am formations or I am consciousness, nor do I say I am apart from consciousness yet. I still have the attitude I am.
In other words is no longer I am this. I am that there's no longer something that is identified as being the self, but there still is the sense that I am.
Culadasa: Although a noble disciple may have abandoned the five more immediate fetters, which is where we started out talking about it. We never did to go through the second to formally, but anyway, although noble disciple may have abandoned the five more immediate failures, still his cassette conceit. I am his desire.
I am his underlying tendency. I am with respect to the five aggregates remains as yet. Later he advised his contemplating rise and fall us such for such as origin, such as disappearance till by. So doing his conceit, I am eventually counts to be abolished. This is what is overcome when the non returner becomes at our heart becomes a fully enlightened back to this list of Heathers that non-return, or has overcome the first five of you.
We're talking about the first three that the stream entrant over these times, and then four and five are since desired. And the second one is usually ill will or hatred directed towards
So I have a specific question. You are
Culadasa: not a stream mentor until you overcome those three betters because in my personal experience, and I imagine the same for other people you certainly have,
Bubbles of that.
Culadasa: You have waves of that you have maybe even months of that, and then you re consolidate or whatever you want to call it.
So it I guess I'm having a little bit of a hard time. It's not to me, like something that, okay, now you're this, and then you're that, it's like this, it's like
Culadasa: If you have, I would say, and I'm not talking about you in particular, but if any person has. The experience of this transformation that's described by overcoming these three fitters or an extended period of time of more than, a few hours.
We, any of these can have a really profound experience and we walk around for the rest of the week. If the mushrooms did the job, you can walk around for the week and a completely different idea, reality and yourself. But what happens with that is it wears off and it doesn't come back.
Now, if you have that kind of realization and it lasts for quite a long time, but it's true, you might lose it for a little while. And that's what I would suggest to you is the real interpretation of the seven times return. But.
Culadasa: would be very surprised if you could really say it [01:00:00] yourself, I've overcome these three fighters. And I have lived in this place for weeks and months that you might lose it for periods of time, but it's not going to happen very often. And and it's not going to happen very many times and eventually you're not going to lose it all.
And that's what it needs to be stream entry. Nobody's saying that the stream insurer never has a moment when they lose sight of what they have learned, but it doesn't last very long. And usually as soon as you lose sight of the understanding of the illusory nature of your personal self, as soon as you lose.
As soon as you began to believe in other power, rather than your own power, you are going to start experiencing suffering. And you're going to start doing things that are harmful for other beings. It just naturally comes out of that. You go back to doing the kinds of things that non-stranger attachments do, and that is what's going to bring you out of it.
You're going to start suffering and you're going to suffer enough till you realize that, wow, this is ridiculous. Why, why am I doing this? And you'll stop. And you'll realize you reawaken. I guess I used the example of when he falls asleep, he woken up from the nightmare and the Doe's off again.
The nightmare starts up again. They wake up again pretty fast, so you can fall asleep a few times. And it won't last very long and he'll come out of it. I don't know if this is describing what's happening with you or not, but somebody, and this is
Culadasa: to say whether you or anybody else has a string that's for all we have to do is see what happens over time.
Do you have you achieved a permanent overcoming of these fetters interrupted by temporary episodes of forgetting that don't last very long. And is this sustained over a long period of time? After six months after a year after two years, we could look insight. There's no question. You're a strained nature.
You should be working on the next stage. You should start to recognize the degree to which your desires and aversions are controlling and dominating your you're now much happier. All right. And actually it's your desires and the versions that are sending you into these temporary tapes. That's what it needs to be a string mantra.
Now it's not such a dramatic black and white thing that, that's what I say. You can't say he can't be a string matcher because I heard him get mad and kick the cat.
You can't say that. And and likewise, you can't say somebody use a string mentor because they say, oh, I had this wonderful experience. And I realized I was one with everything. And, but, ever since then, I've been so happy neater, those that doesn't by itself. Tell us anything else. See what happens over a period of time, but they are dramatic changes and they are permanent change.
And if you watch her every time that becomes obvious
On number four central
Culadasa: overcoming essential desire.
Does that mean,
does that mean no desire for sex?
Culadasa: As a matter of fact, it does
Culadasa: doesn't mean that you can't have sex and it doesn't mean you can enjoy it.
But you can't want it?
Culadasa: Not that it's forbidden.
Yeah, but you can't want it,
Culadasa: right? Not that you can't it's that you just sit them down.
What you don't have,
Culadasa: what you don't have is that compulsion that advises that, oh, I really want to have sex. I'm going to feel so good. If I have sex, I'm going to feel so bad if I don't have sex, that doesn't happen. But you're capable of having sex, but your motivations for having sex different.
Yeah. [01:05:00] Okay. So it wouldn't be sex for sex sake. Wouldn't be sex for a second. Wouldn't be sex coming out of a compulsion to have sex. Okay. Okay.
Really scared me.
Culadasa: You wouldn't believe how nice it is not to have compulsions to have things like sex or can't you believe her. And you understand,
can you say the,
Culadasa: As long as you are relying on a power
Culadasa: long as you believe that there is such a thing as possible, then you have
at the level of cognition, there's a degree of understanding that you have not yet. And that means that there's a part of your mind that is not going to have completely changed the way that it works. And so you're going to still be vulnerable as a result of that and way that you won't be when you realize when you
Culadasa: completely the illusion of
That makes sense too.
Culadasa: So you're talking about like the power of money, the power of sex, the
Culadasa: the power of rites and rituals. And you believe that? If I perform these ceremonies, then I will look
Culadasa: if I follow these rules. Then,
The act of following these rules is going to bring good
fortune to me,
Culadasa: does bring good fortune for clear and understandable reasons. It is not because, I think that this is a universally true statement that the belief in the other power. Rules and rites and rituals and ceremonies is a Fetter and impediment and a problem. And then when we overcome that well, that when we see things, as we really are, that automatically falls away.
That's what's being said, but you can also to understand what the meaning of this is in the context of the Buddhist time, Buddhist teaching, the Monical tradition taught that what happened to you in the future was the result of karma and karma was your fulfilling your role in society. Following all the rules, performing all the rituals and doing it in just the right way for the Bron himself.
He had three fires that he kept going. He performed all kinds of rituals that were intended. Basically keep the whole world happening the way it was made sure the rains fell and things like that would perform other rituals afforded money for other people who were not Brahmans. And therefore he did not have the power to perform the rituals themselves, but everyone of any of the casts, there were certain ways that they were supposed to behave ways they were supposed to treat parents, husbands, wives those have higher castes, those lower casts, a ways they were supposed to conduct their life in terms of their jobs and things like that.
This was all colored up called karma. And the belief was that whatever happened to you in the future was going to be the result of your karma
Culadasa: Buddha redefined karma. He said, karma all happens inside here. That there is not some unknown force or power somewhere keeping track. It says Cheryl did such and such.
She's going to get that back. When, on these days,
that's, what's being, that's, what's being [01:10:00] understood, does not exist. That
Culadasa: Buddha taught karma as being the conditioning that we create in ourselves. We condition ourselves. Every thought that we have plays a role in determining who will we, we will be in what we've experienced in the future. So it's not, there's nothing external to you to turn towards.
You'd have to turn with him and you have to take responsibility for your own. This is what he's talking about. You're free of that illusion making a sacrifice and tell him saying the prayers isn't going through. Didn't mean he good. On
the other hand,
Culadasa: rituals and ceremonies still can't be used because they can't help me to condition my mind in a different way.
I can do loving kindness, meditation, and I'm creating karma. When I do that for that matter. When I sit and do any meditation, I'm creating a current on conditioning. My mind, everything I do is create a current, but deciding that well, if I do this, because it's a good act, then some other power is going to give me a benefit for it in the future.
That's where we get rid of death.
I get, and you're still talking about that, but I'm well,
Culadasa: I'm a little bit on the wayside here. When I think of other
power. Are you saying that
Culadasa: any belief in a higher power is going to be,
make you vulnerable
Culadasa: in this particular soteriological system and this system to take you to the salvation of enlightenment?
It is, if you were a Christian, I surrender to a higher power is a viable
Culadasa: but as only a viable method within that whole system, you have to have, you have to take the whole conceptual framework and all the practices and blogging it. There is a path to enlightenment. That's called Bucky. And but this is not a Bach decaf.
The higher power is not other power. It is the Buddha nature with him as, and it already exists. And what we have to do is to remove the defilements from it. We have to overcome the Federers overcome the vital nuts, remove the afflictions and the Buddha nature helps us to do that. We appeal to the Buddha nature within us.
So it's not another power. It's a different way of
looking at it.
Yes. But it really smacked religion. And
Culadasa: if it is. No question about it a lot in any Buddhist country, go and see a lot of what happens in the temples. A lot of what late Buddhists do. And a lot of what the monastics serve is religious Buddhism. And it involves a belief in a self and involves a belief in other power, not all of these things.
Culadasa: in this little discussion here. We've, we're reminding ourselves of two important distinctions. We have to make, we have to distinguish between religion and any mystical path. And then we have to recognize that there are different mystical paths, which in terms of what we covered, last night when we talked about are amazingly similar and where they go, but they go by different right by different routes by different processes.
And so the Bhakti path is not the same as the Buddhist path, or the Christian path, this kind of Bhakti path. And they're both mystical paths, but religious Christianity and religious Buddhism needed. And one of those is the mystical path either. And neither one of them will lead either to union and God through Christ or to the stages of it might.
Culadasa: it is. With the belief in the [01:15:00] mystery, in the power of mystery I don't understand the big picture yet when I'm still wherever I give that little really to, I don't know. And it feels like a freedom, so I can work with that. And it's not a power in terms. I believe that they give me back when I, whatever I did wrong or good, but it is a power.
I let go of my control. I can figure it out right now.
And it helps. Yeah,
Culadasa: that's good. That's really good. But when you become a stream nutrient that will fall away, you'll say, oh, that works. Okay. That's good. But I don't believe in that anymore. Now I realize, now my doubt has gone away. Now I know there is such a thing as enlightenment.
Now I have experienced a good inner nature within me. And I think it's
Culadasa: to doubt in my email and get past capacity of enlightenment. When I give this to the mystery,
It might be, I don't know, is it looking at yourself and see it might come, but it comes from for some reason or other, for whatever reason, whether it's doubt or whether it's something else the way your mind
Culadasa: This is the way you look at it.
And it works for you right now. When your mind changes the way it works. You won't do that in the same way anymore. Okay. And
Culadasa: an enlightened being, but don't try to force yourself to be other than what you are. If praying to a greater power helps you now, then don't look at it and say string entrants are enlightened beings no longer believe in the power of rites and ritual.
So I shouldn't do that. That would be a big mistake. You're giving up something that works for you. It will fall away by itself. And the end now, the way you should look at as far as emulating, and I'm like, dang. If you
Culadasa: thinking that rather than working on myself through mindful. My friend said that all I really have to do is put so many cups on the alter and light, so many candles and chance.
So many words, that sounds a lot easier. That's going to be a real big mistake. That's where you should say no enlightened beings. Don't trust to rites and rituals to achieve the results. So I'm going to emulate an enlightened day, but when I find something in myself that the best way to deal with it is to turn it over to a higher power and it works.
Now I'm going to do that. So you see, that's a good illustration. I'm glad that came up. And yes. Could you talk about anger a little bit in terms of someone who's experienced, but as compared to us female as compared to the stream and the stream entry?
We all are,
Culadasa: We're programmed to January the emotion of anger under a certain kinds of circumstances, and to act out of it and to the degree that it has served us, that's been positively reinforced over our lives on to the degree that it hasn't, it's been negatively reinforced. Some people find themselves very prone to anger, but it is an innate emotional response that has been amplified by conditioning.
And so what you need to do is to change the conditioning. You need to replace the old conditioning with the new conditioning and overcome your anger. Now, a person. A person who's not as stream management can do this and we'll need to do this. And as a matter of fact it's a necessary part of becoming a stream metric to work on these things you need to work on your anger, but you won't necessarily have completely overcome anger and your conditioning towards anger when you become a stream after the difference is that after stream entry you'll have a much more powerful tools to work with to continue in the process.
So your anger will not,
Culadasa: not be so resistant to your mindfulness and to your abilities to overcome it. And you'll be much less likely to act as freely out of the anger and regret it afterwards. Not that it won't. You'll still have whatever conditioning towards anger that you brought with you as you pass that threshold, but it will be far easier to deal with, but you will need to continue to deal with it, dealing with it.
Does that answer your question?
[01:20:00] Yeah. It's a star.
Culadasa: Yeah. Yes. Eventually you go to a point where there is no more anger,
so you can look forward to that. It does, it is one of the changes that takes place and S but until you've reached that point, you'll need to continue working on it. Because even though you may have, when you come to the point where you completely overcome. The week before you may have still experienced the arising of anger, even though because of your work on it, it didn't overwhelm you.
And even though it wasn't so intense, and even though you didn't necessarily act on it, you still experienced that mental state or rising. And then the transformation comes to the non returner and you'll find that anger thing, whatever it is, it's just doesn't happen anymore. So that's the wonderful transition.
But in the meantime, until you reach that, you just keep whittling away at it as best you can. And you can't move if I were to back off, because if you say okay, once I become a non returner, the anchor problem will be solved. So I'm just going to ignore it because continuing to work on it, not the degree of success.
But the fact of continuing to work on it is part of what gets you to become a non-return.
All right. It's time to let you have some lunch before.