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Year’s End 2013

December 26, 2013

Looking Toward

As time goes by ever more quickly and my internal evolution proceeds ever deeper, it becomes increasingly difficult to express my thoughts and experiences in mere words. Yet I feel that I must record something, even if at the moment I have no idea who, if anyone, will be able to understand this. I often feel like a Crusoe, cast off on an alien shore, who though without prospect of rescue or contact, feels oddly compelled to keep a journal. Nevertheless on the off chance that my observations might benefit some unknown person at some future time, I will write a little to examine my views.

This whole year, like the previous one, has seen tremendous changes both within and without. As I go deeper into authentic Sri Lankan forest monastic culture, my context is changing and so, necessarily, are my values and the meaning of my life. A lot of my previous identity is shedding, and many things I have held on to as ‘self’ are up for review.

On the whole I have been extremely fortunate. I was born in a family of perfect puthujjanas—completely average ordinary folks—destined to become a fool, an idiot with no future except to work to death. Somehow by sheer determination I overcame obstacle after obstacle, mainly composed of the thickheadedness of the people in my life. They sought to limit me and divert me from my purposes. Somehow I broke out of the emotional and social prisons they sought to entrap me in, and found some real, honest sādhus. Skill or luck? A little bit of both, I think, along with purity of purpose and some profound good kamma.

Anyway I just returned from a hectic, stressful weeklong trip to Chennai to renew my visa and apply for permanent residency in Sri Lanka. I used the opportunity to purchase the remaining items for our video studio. Thus there was much confusion and running around in auto-rickshaws in the choking smog. I came down with cold-like symptoms the last day or two, but those cleared up as soon as I got into the fresh air of Sri Lanka. Still, I was exhausted and slept around the clock.

Several times during that long rest, my consciousness surfaced into a meditative state. My body was asleep, but I was awake, clear and sensitive to deep, tranquil concentration. I took the opportunity to investigate several questions regarding higher jhānas and final enlightenment. I experienced several abstruse and subtle states that I won’t attempt to describe. Then after some poking around, I discovered something very wonderful.

Unfortunately I can’t say anything about it in public. Given that I have stumbled, in my usual bumbling spontaneous way, into something so esoteric that it defies language and mocks my powers of explanation, I think it is a good time for me to withdraw from public presentation and teaching altogether. In fact, all I really feel like doing is to meditate and contemplate my new discovery.

I’m not going to claim enlightenment, or Buddhahood, or any other status or designation. I’m just going to fade out of sight completely. I will still help the other senior monks make videos of their teaching, post them online and so forth. But I will not be posting under my own name, because it’s not my teaching. If I would teach, I would have to talk about my experience, and since I can’t do that without violating Vinaya rules, I won’t.

I feel that a certain phase of my existence is coming to an end—not just a chapter, but a large section of chapters. I feel no more compulsion to teach and share; although I would like to, I find myself multiply constrained. First of all, in the year I have been presenting the teaching of the Buddha, few interested students have come forward. Is it really worth the effort? Second, fellow western Buddhists, even monastics, have been overtly hostile. Third, the Vinaya prohibits me from talking to laymen about the most interesting part of my experience. Finally, restricting my teaching to an introductory level would be boring.

The Vinaya rules have an important purpose: they restrict who may hear certain confidential subjects to the circle of ordained monks. This maintains the status of the Buddha’s teaching as an authentic mystery school, and it also requires a major life commitment before disclosing certain powerful technologies of consciousness. Trust is an important part of integrity, and the Buddha wanted to insure that his best knowledge would remain the property of trustworthy men, men of proven character and integrity.

So I will fade away behind the ochre curtain. There are times when teachers and teachings are better hidden, rather than being degraded by public exposure in a time of almost universal confusion and distortion of esoteric truths. The Buddha has already presented everything in his Suttas; anything more we can say is just commentary—and there has already been more than enough of that. Plus there are many senior monks who are far more capable and experienced teachers than I. Anyone who really wants to experience the heart of the Buddha’s teaching should come to Sri Lanka and become a monk.

I will leave you with my decision and reasons, and sincerely hope that you do not experience any ill feelings or inconvenience because of it. I truly wish you the very best: the blessings of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. May you be happy and free from all anxiety, suffering and fear, and may you reach complete enlightenment very soon.

Your Dhamma friend,
Nyanasara Thero

Looking Away

PS—This site, like everything that exists, is impermanent. If you want to save any of the posts, do it now.

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