When We Cherish a Viewpoint, We Are Driving Blind: What Is Extinction of the View?

“No view is seeing
Which can see all things;
If one has any views about things,
This is not seeing anything.”
–Avatamsaka Sutra (Flower Ornament Sutra)

Thinking that we know where we are going is one of the hardest things to overcome. Personally, especially if I am driving, it’s good to see the road in front of me and have a destination in mind. I never liked the feeling of wandering without destination.  Yet letting go of the act of driving the vehicle, the road and the destination brings much joy, and there can still be driving involved, just no more concerns about leaving and arriving. After all, “where is coming or going,” right?

I met a woman a couple of years back with five children, and no car, who lived in a very remote area of a small town, several miles from any stores or hospitals, who would hitchhike to get anywhere she needed. She was very relaxed and joyful and very nonchalant about it. She wasn’t worried about arriving anywhere on time or concerned for her safety because she didn’t have a choice in the matter, so didn’t worry. It was hard to wrap my mind around how she could not be stressed out and frustrated by the whole process, not knowing if that ride will even come or not.

She explained that basically she was free and I was not, so even thinking about it stressed me out, but for her it didn’t and that stress was the burden, not the act itself. Out of necessity, not because she was settling for something lesser or more limited, but actually closer to freedom because she worked to remove the attached thoughts that would have hindered her lifestyle instead of adding the extra stress of obtaining a vehicle and buying gasoline, etc. Her choice was freedom from worry.  Mine was too, but for me this entailed extra steps, extra cost, and extra stress: a rental car and a phone, etc. so I am not stuck somewhere without a ride or communication device.

For her, moving to the woods was a natural choice and she chose to forego some conveniences so that she could have the lifestyle she wanted. For me, moving to the woods was also a natural choice, but I like to plan things out, and it was still inconvenient, but of course, worth it. Since I am off of the road system, that means that there was definitely some foresight and planning involved.

That conversation reminded me of a quote by Jetsun Milarepa:
I have no desire for wealth or possessions, and so I have nothing. I do not experience the initial suffering of having to accumulate possessions, the intermediate suffering of having to guard and keep up possessions, nor the final suffering of losing the possessions. This is a wonderful thing. I have no desire for friends or relations. I do not experience the initial suffering of forming an attachment, the intermediate suffering of having disagreements with friends and family, nor the final suffering of parting with them. Therefore it is good to be without friends and relations. I have no desire for pleasant conversation. I do not experience the initial suffering of beginning conversation, the intermediate suffering of wondering whether to continue the conversation, nor the final suffering of the conversation deteriorating. Therefore I do not delight in pleasant conversation. I have no desire for a home land and have no fixed residence. I do not experience the initial suffering of partiality of thinking that ‘this is my land and that place isn’t.’ I do not experience the intermediate suffering of yearning for my land. And I do not experience the final suffering of having to protect my land. Therefore I do not have a fixed abode.
— Jetsun Milarepa, Ten Teachings from the Songs of Milarepa

Moral effort is the same way. When we are judging others, it removes our own moral efforts and our own hard work. If we are perceiving others as just as flawed as we perceive ourselves to be, we are not seeing the underlying truth and infusing suffering into what is pure and perfect. So what is right moral effort? Working to liberate all beings in bliss. Bodhicitta is the basis of right moral effort. It’s good to ask the self, “is the act inspired by bodhicitta?” Then we learn something from our actions and there is potential for liberation, plus there is not so much goal orientedness.

When we perceive lack in self or others, we are only seeing our desires and our own suffering. It is very good to recognize this simple point so that we can begin to see past our previous limitations and attachments of mind.

We must also inevitably perceive some views until there is real extinction of the view.  So, when do we know when we can toss the road map out the window?

When we are truly capable of overlooking the perceived flaws of others and can truly approach any situation with no agenda but have the answers to questions that arise in mind, because we know on a profound level, the joy of not knowing or believing in any one thing. It really takes us beyond knowing and beyond believing. When we are past any concept of this thing or that thing or acting upon things with some intent besides joyful liberation through the heart/mind center.

Some say the view disappears in awareness, true enough, but what is awareness anyway? Everyone seems to think they have it or they need to cultivate awareness, but there is a wonderful line in the Heart Sutra that makes me very happy, “…no consciousness.”

So, where is the awareness in “no consciousness?”
There is none.
Where is mind, in, “no mind?”
Same response, none.

It is a state, and experience, not a conceptual thought established in the mind, but in order to experience this, it first it must be established as a conceptual thought in the mind… so false thoughts are replaced by a joyful intent to liberate all beings into pure bliss, bodhicitta. Most other thoughts are not necessary, arise naturally, and subside naturally without a trace. Bodhicitta is easily cultivated when we practice love meditations.

Incidentally, mindfulness and awareness are VERY valuable tools to cultivate. Again, this is a process of using the highest supporting dharma, the best tools, and then discarding them when we are done, and not holding on to anything.

Some people mistake dull states of shamatha for this going beyond awareness. Here is how to tell the difference. Did awareness expand beyond limit? Do you love all beings with a deep compassionate love from your heart that brings much joy? Did you open your heart and go through the agonizing process of keeping it open when the source of love went away? Did you go through a horrific endurance afterwards? Are you established in bliss? Or do you still experience ups and downs like before? In bliss, there are still ups and downs, but no anguish and pain is very diminished.

Mainly: Do you still cherish a view?
I.e.: Do you think you are a separate thing? Are you competing in any way with anyone? Do you disagree or agree with what people say? There is a very nice quote:

“Intimacy itself is at the heart of Zen. When we are intimate with anything, or with everything, we are simultaneously being intimate with ourselves.” — Jakusho Kwong Roshi

Selflessness removes the need for walls because it removes grasping at forms or any type of desire for objects or others. Not feeling separate from other beings is a very intimate experience. Not grasping is a selfless and equanimical and very detached approach which does not remove intimacy or make us hard-hearted or blind to the suffering of others in any way.

Some may think it’s belief that keeps us going. It’s not.

Belief is a step to joy. It’s fine to cherish beliefs. Unfortunately, belief completely obscures reality and takes us out of, “the now,” into hoping for the future. Beliefs tie us to a future, and the point is to get past future, past and present. Belief is wonderful, and when we are done, as an attached thought, it is easily and necessarily removed for true depth of unshakeable bliss.  Hope is another one. It gets in the way of being happy right now, but it is not so bad compared to other attached thoughts.

Without belief and hope, Trust is still there, but belief and its companion, disbelief, and hope and its companion, fear, are no longer questions or issues.

Wait, how can you live without hope and belief?

Simple answer: Very simply and very, very happily.

Okay, this is how I understand it and how I use penetrative insight with dharma. Penetrative insight is the most valuable tool for awakening. We use deductive reasoning, but mostly meditation. First there are a set of clues, like a crime scene, or a legal brief, and put them together until there are no discrepancies, binarisms, seeming chaos, or contradictions and everything aligns with the simplest of tenets:

So, for example, Buddha says a lot of stuff. Then we see he often repeats: “it’s all mind.”  Statements like this are of utmost importance to pay attention to. If you are an advanced practitioner you know that he isn’t saying it’s all in your head or in your heart or “in” anything. It…is…all…mind. So we approach with mind and seek to know mind with mind.

This doesn’t negate the things Buddha said previously. One could call it a philosopher’s stone or a concordance we then apply back to Dharma. We then meditate on this bringing together of ideas: Object = mind; grasping = mind; kleshas = mind; poisons = mind; dharma = mind; aggregates = mind; reality = mind. It also works very well with other religions and philosophies: Love = mind; time and space = mind; spirit and soul = mind.

Personally this approach is very effective for practicing penetrative insight with Dharma and Holy Books. It is not a learned thing, not taught by any teachers — it’s an innate process. It’s the way I think and grew up thinking. My mother used to say, “think, Caroline, think,” and I took this very seriously. I tried to think in the most effective way to discover what we needed to know from the information we already had. It is effective up to a point… Then it is replaced with something much more refined and simple called compassion. Just reading with compassion brings high levels of awareness, and it is much easier than thinking. Compassion, after all, is mind. All is mind.

The ultimate view depends entirely upon one’s own mind. If one searches for a view anywhere else but within one’s own mind, one will not find it. One needs to learn to see the own mind directly, void by nature while lucid and clear. This takes place in every instant and has always been present. Seeking the ultimate view outside the own mind is like a big blind person digging for gold. Meditation practice is not being concerned about drowsiness or agitation but simply resting in mind’s innate purity. Rejecting or accepting distractions that do arise is just as silly as lighting a butter lamp in the sunshine. –Milarepa

Milarepa is a great example. He killed 35 people before becoming enlightened.  Who are we to judge? If we judge someone like that we bring terrible judgment on ourselves. So even when we encounter a person who has committed terrible atrocities and has many poisonous attachments, they are not a hopeless case.  All beings can reach enlightenment and full buddhahood.

Highly recommended reading: 60 Songs of Milarepa: http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/60songs.pdf

An advanced practitioner does not resort to rules and regulations that he or she does not need any more but experiences them as useless struggles and concerns. Attempting to be good and to avoid bad is like a bee caught in a web. The more the bee struggles to free itself, the more it becomes tangled in the web and will not find release.

Continuously placing one’s mind within the ultimate view is not ultimate samaya. The ultimate result is nothing other than the manifestation of true mind itself. Seeking ultimate results elsewhere is like a tortoise trying to fly by hopping into the sky. –Milarepa

Then we use mantras or visualization, but mostly just lots of love to clarify the mind so there is no seeing impurities and faults in dharma or the reasoning or beings of perceived others first, and not first seeing the problem in my own (perceived) heart. Love quickly and easily removes thoughts and brings joy. For example, we may sometimes perceive someone is not a good person. Everyone is a good person. It’s attachments of mind that create actions of good and bad. Judging that person is not our job. We learn the language of and then talk to, and see the good person that is all things = mind. How do we remove judgment from the mind? The easiest way is with LOVE.

A short stanza:
People really are like rivers.
Then like oceans;
Then like the very substance of vast space;
Then everything stops into nothing, dense fields appear, arrays of patterned light,
Then everything disappears in pure white light and there is no consciousness. No thought, no motion.
Where is mind then, when there is no thought? It’s not a thoughtless state in the same way we describe thoughtlessness, yet every thought and every answer is there already naturally unarisen, naturally liberated and naturally unborn.

Then everything fades into absolute emptiness. All light disappears, but we can’t call it black. It’s nothing.
Void is an experience. Nothing is an experience. Emptiness is an experience. These start out as conceptual thoughts, but they develop into a true experience, just as Buddha says, it starts in the mind… Where the mind goes, we go.

No view is the right view, but to see this, it helps to give oneself a vantage point, from which we can then remove all vantages and points.

So, we climb the mountain, but in so doing we see the mountain was always in the heart and there was no real coming or going. So we remove the mountain and the expansive view until we see beyond seeing without looking and think beyond thinking without having a thought. Remember, love = mind.

Love without object is beyond thought, so it is a very nice place to start and not such a bad place to finish either.

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us, “the universe.” A part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest.– a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and for affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”  — Albert Einstein

Undoing socialization requires some effort. Not putting into place some new social patterning system requires more effort.

If you don’t want your brain washed by the machine, wash it yourself at home:
2 parts LOVE
1 part UNDERSTANDING

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