The Ineffable Realization of Truth

Ajahn Sumedho

The Ineffable Realization of Truth

There’s the view that we’ve passed the Golden Age when everything was perfect. Nevertheless there is this aspiration of the human heart for individuals, communities and nations to somehow get back to that perfect paradise on planet Earth, where everything is fair and just, beautiful and true and perfect for us.

And while we can point to the mess we humans have made, we have to recognize that Mother Nature is also good at making messes on this planet. Reflecting on Dhamma allows us to see that even the Earth itself is impermanent: hurricanes, volcanoes and the whole geological history of planet Earth is, in human terms, pretty horrendous. So, it’s just the way things change and move in nature. There’s a mystery to it all: a planetary system existing in a universe. Our curiosity is taking us towards the furthest reaches of the solar system, but even with all our cleverness, all we can say is that it’s very mysterious and wonderful.

All we can do as human beings, really, is open ourselves to this mystery in wonder because we can’t solve it with the puny little minds we have. Since we can’t solve the mystery, the only thing to do is either to reject it and busy ourselves with trivial and foolish things or to consciously open ourselves to the mystery.

This is what we mean by the ineffable realization of Truth. It’s the opening of an individual’s mind to the mystery. There’s no demand for any answer. Just opening your mind and surrendering with total openness and receptivity – that’s what we can actually realize within this human form. When you’re at one with the mystery, there’s no suffering, but as long as you are frightened by it or seeking to solve it with the puny perceptions of the mind, you’ll just end up in doubt and despair, fear and anxiety.

But, we can contemplate our own existence. We can contemplate the mystery of life and the universe. What is that about, anyway? One can dismiss it as much ado about nothing, or one can actually investigate and open to it. Then there is the realization of true peacefulness that you can never have when you’re trying to find peace in something or some person or some place.

You can try looking for a peaceful place and, maybe, you find your Shangri-La and live happily ever after … but it’s more likely you’ll discover the American Air Force has low-flying jet practice over Shangri-La or the people in Shangri-La are so high-minded they never clean the toilets! There’s always a snake in the garden or a worm in the apple; there’s always going to be something un-peaceful about the conditioned realm.

It’s the same with the idea of finding Prince Charming or Cinderella: ‘Once I meet the right person, then I will live happily ever after.’ That’s an illusion too. So with no place to go, nobody to save you and fulfil you, and nothing you can do about it, you could end up creating a world all of your own – living in a kind of deranged mental state. It isn’t through any objective realm, through thought, perception or through the material realm that you’ll find the way out of suffering, but in transcending it.

Transcendence doesn’t mean escaping or rejecting suffering, but moving to that still centre of being where there’s perspective and receptivity to the conditioned realm. There’s no longer any identification with the objective conditioned realm.

This reflection by Luang Por Sumedho is from the book, Ajahn Sumedho Anthology, Volume 5—The Wheel of Truth, (pdf) pp. 80-81.

Eight Principles for Recognizing Dhamma and Vinaya

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu

Eight Principles for Recognizing Dhamma and Vinaya

Shortly after her ordination, the Buddha’s step-mother Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī asked him for a short Dhamma-instruction that would guide her in her solitary practice. He responded with eight principles for recognizing what qualifies as Dhamma and Vinaya, and what does not. The commentary tells us that after her instruction, Mahāpajāpati Gotamī in no long time became an arahant. The eight principles ha…

With and Without Residue

Ajahn Thiradhammo

With and Without Residue

A more refined explanation of awakening or nibbāna is that there are two kinds: there is awakening ‘with residue’, meaning being awakened with a living body, or while still alive; and there is awakening ‘without residue’ when the awakened person dies and the body breaks up. The first designation refers to the condition of awakening with the usual expressions of body/mind still intact. The awakene…

What is the value of chanting?

Ajahn Jayasaro

What is the value of chanting?

Most of the more popular chants found in the Thai Buddhist tradition consist of passages selected from the Tipitaka. They include verses listing the qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha; discourses expounding key teachings; passages of wise reflection; and verses for radiating thoughts of kindness and for sharing merits with all sentient beings. For many Thai lay Buddhists chanting is their…

Letting Go and Picking Up

Ajahn Karuṇadhammo

Letting Go and Picking Up

Many of the practices we hear and read about in our tradition are focused on the process of letting go—how we let go of our habits and tendencies as well as objects of mind. We do this to dwell in and experience the pure state of awareness that comes from not grasping or holding onto anything. This is the ultimate practice on the path: letting go of negative tendencies and realizing, at the end of…

‘Buddho’, through Awareness

Ajahn Sumedho

‘Buddho’, through Awareness

Over the years, in various ways, all of us have at times been caught up with and carried away by our feelings and reactions. Take a moment to observe how these things affect us; whether it’s in reaction to the people you live with or the society you live in, the way people look or what they say or their tone of voice and so forth. All of this has its effect on you – you feel something coming from…

Enjoy Yourself and Delight in Practice

Ajahn Pasanno

Enjoy Yourself and Delight in Practice

The Buddha says right from the get-go: enjoy yourself and delight in practice. Allow yourself to suffuse and fill, permeate and pervade this body. It’s interesting that the Buddha was very explicit, in all the instructions on the developing of refined states of meditative stillness, that there’s no dissociation from the body. They’re integrated as a body-mind experience. Throughout the instruction…

Desire on Its Own Terms

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu

Desire on Its Own Terms

Most of us, when looking at the four noble truths, don’t realize that they’re all about desire. We’re taught that the Buddha gave only one role to desire—as the cause of suffering. Because he says to abandon the cause of suffering, it sounds like he’s denying any positive role to desire and its constructive companions: creativity, imagination, and hope. This perception, though, misses two importan…

“The Conjuring Tricks of Consciousness”

Ajahn Sundara

“The Conjuring Tricks of Consciousness”

For a long time we may think we are in charge, so we can feel very bad about ourselves, guilty or embarrassed. How many times do we feel embarrassed about the way we behave? Even when nobody sees it and it’s just an internal experience, you feel so embarrassed. This beautiful person that you hope to become one day is suddenly raging about some silly thing, some silly object. It’s as if your grand…

The Good Friend Endures

Ajahn Sucitto

The Good Friend Endures

Thirdly, the good friend endures. This is where it starts to get down to the nitty-gritty. ‘They endure what’s difficult to endure.’ They bear with what’s difficult to bear with for your sake. And any of you who are parents, will testify to that. Five years of sleep-deprivation! Years and years of bearing with your young ones, going through their pangs and difficulties with you bearing responsibil…