The Experience of Nibbāna

And so this plane of Objectlessness,

or featurelessness,

or without attribute particularly,

this is where the meditation changes.

Here we’ve gone through all of the Brahmavihāras,

and we’ve seen that equanimity,

or radiant calm, boundless calm,

culminates (it ends), in the plane of Nothingness,

or Objectlessness.

 

And this is why the Buddha said that

the Brahmavihāras do not go all the way to Nibbāna.

And this is where we need to step out of this wonderful vehicle,

if we want to continue further,

because otherwise, you would be clinging to

a particular vehicle or object,

and clinging is not the Buddha’s teaching. 

Stepping out of the Vehicles

The Buddha’s teaching is about not clinging.

So here we step out of the Brahmavihāras,

and step in to the end of the four resting places of awareness,

seeing mind as mind

resting the mind upon itself

 

And this is what this famous plane of Nothingness is,

it is awareness,

of what?

Nothing in particular, just mind aware of itself.

 

But we are not very used to this,

it is a very freeing thing,

witnessing mind, as it is,

simply witnessing itself.

 

And of course this does not happen with a slice of the knife.

It is not a clean transition,

where a second ago you were this boundless calm,

and now everything changed, and you’re observing mind as mind.

It is very subtle.

But if we continue the practice,

practicing properly with letting go,

supported by letting go,

calming down, release,

bringing things to an end,

and this is where Nirodha starts to make a lot more sense,

for the advanced practice,

as we are in fact, bringing all of this to a complete release,

to an end.

 

And this is where the word vossagga, relaxation,

can also be understood as surrender.

See it is tricky translating the Pali,

because we don’t have the same words for everything,

so, at this point here it is more about completely surrendering,

completely letting go,

And that means also,
and this is where, this sutta ends here,
but I will be going beyond this a little bit.

And, as we step into the mind,

being only mind, as it is, simply mind,

there is nothing particular arising,

there is simply, a very clear awareness of Nothing.

 

But as discernment,

so see here, the awareness,

the support of awakening of awareness,

that we have seen throughout this whole process,

(it’s not because we stop the Brahmavihāras

that the supports of awakening stop,

in fact, these continue also here),

now the awareness has become very sharp,

there is very little disturbance in the awareness mind as mind,

and so we are able to see things clearer and clearer,

and here, we see the distractions before they even arise,

we start to see the beginnings of the distractions,

the beginnings of the āsavas,

the beginning of the mental movements,

and that is the second support of awakening:

discernment, which is very sharp at that point.

 

And then we continue

we find inspiration in that, of course,

because it is, it seeps into joy,

and now we start to notice this,

we notice: it is good. It leads to happiness,

to a happy state here and now,

This is getting more and more happy, simply, calm-happy. 😊

And now, this is the fourth support of awakening,

that is the joy,

but the joy here is more bliss,

it’s this really wonderful bliss of having this kind of clear mind,

it’s hard to put into words,

but the Buddha was very clear,

this is even better than all these other states,

as we go.

 

And then this continues on,

into even more calming down.

Now here, what starts to happen is that viññaṇa,

consciousness starts to break down.

 

And we are getting to know and understand

the very deeper aspects of the Buddha’s teaching.

Awareness starts to break down into these,

what we call ‘Sankhāras’,

and these sankhāras are all of that mental activity

which is conditioned,

it is arising on its own due to previous causes and conditions.

 

And they arise, they have a volition,

they have a certain velocity,

and we learn to calm this velocity,

this force, still the same practice here,

but the tranquility becomes much stronger

in a way that is calm.

And Samādhi, becomes so sharp,

collectedness of mind becomes so sharp,

steadiness so sharp and so present,

awareness starts to dissolve,

it breaks down here.

 

And what happens when awareness starts breaking down,

well, is that we are not that aware of it.  

And that is where the intricate part of it is,

because we only know this, looking back.

 

In another sutta the Buddha explains this wise Samādhi

in five steps:

First step was the first jhāna,

the second step, second jhāna,

third step, third jhāna,

fourth step, fourth jhāna,

fifth step, paccavekkhanā this means ‘reflecting’,

paccavekkhanā is like a mirror,

looking back, and telling (recalling) these states.

 

In the beginning, our mind is full of hindrances,

hard to tell these states apart,

but as we get used to this meditation,

we look back, we reflect on what was happening,

then we get to see these states a little bit clearer,

and then it makes more sense.

 

But at this very end part of the path

when awareness becomes so clear it vanishes,

it starts to fade away,

then sometimes the perceptions become coarse again,

and the sankhāras, coarser sankhāras,

come up again because this is not a clean-cut process,

it will fluctuate, it will come back, and down,

just continue letting go.

 

At this point it is only about just letting it all go,

letting it all go,

bringing it to an end,

completely releasing it.

 

And sometimes when coarser perceptions arise,

we will leave this deeper space,

and we can look back at what happened in this state.


The Buddha said,

one cannot know this plane between awareness and its limit,

or between awareness and its release,

(neither perception nor non-perception, as it is called sometimes),

one is only aware of this plane when one comes out of it,

because there needs to be awareness to be aware of it J

and this is where it falls off.

 

This is very important to understand this part of the path,

this deeper end of the practice,

because the Buddha did not only teach awareness,

in fact, he taught the release from experiential awareness,

Nirodha.

 

And that is what is called, Nibbāna.

 

And this is very important to understand.

Mindfulness is not just what the Buddha taught.

He taught to go beyond. 😊


So at this point we have cultivated

these seven supports of awakening,

to such an extent that they have become very sharp,

and as we are getting used to the plane between

awareness and its release,

(neither perception nor non-perception),

the mind acquires stability in this.

It becomes used to that.

And that is kind of its dwelling place.

And as we learn, when grosser perceptions arise,

one looks back and understands what happened,

…the coarser perceptions arose again…

and lets them go again, and acquires confidence,

and confidence,

at some point, the mind,

The thing is, in this space, there are still

very, very subtle formations that arise, but

they’re very, very, very subtle,

we are not very aware of that,

one is not very aware of that,

 

so it is not complete Nirodha,

but as we learn to continue,

and having taken release as a foundation,

then it brings us there.

 

But we cannot bring anything into that space.

 

That is why the Brahmaviharas do not lead (all the way) there.

 

And then there is complete release of the mind.

It is also translated as cessation, which is not wrong,

but I prefer the term: release.

 

Where awareness comes, in fact, with tension in it,

a little bit.  It’s faint.

These sankhāras, every one of them,

comes with that tiny, tiny tension.

 

and when we learn to see that, and to let it go,

then we go into a place where there is no tension, at all.

 

And there is coming out of this,

there are three kinds of contact,

*I believe they are:

signless contact, (Animtto)

voidness contact, (Suññato)

and undirected contact. (Appaṇihito)

 

First thing that one experiences, or that the mind touches,

coming out of this space, the contact here,

is that there is absolutely nothing,

there was absolutely no self, void of a self.

 

And that the mind was completely undirected,

therefore, no object at all.

And that means no contact, no mental contact,

because this is still a kind of support for the mind,

and we are letting go of all these supports.

 

That is the path to Nibbana.  😊