On Sunday 25 February 2018, I had an interactive hour on screen with participants worldwide.
Organised by Realize Media (www.realizemedia.org), this course consists of a deep exploration of the Goal of Dharma/spiritual practice.
Participants can put a question to me in the hour-long exchange. You will see below a transcription of the questions and my responses. Occasionally, there is a little modification to make the responses clear for readers.
Each of the four modules engage in the integration of and consummation of the teachings into daily life.
A core purpose of the course is for each participant to have a ‘lightbulb moment.’
The Goal of all spiritual practice might be much closer than you think.
See link to broadcast at foot of page.
TRANSCRIPTION OF MODULE TWO
Thank you very much Amy for the kind invitation. I have some contact for an hour with the international community
I will take a moment to give a summary of last week. Last week, we had an exploration on the influence and impact on our life of clinging. Clinging means holding onto, grasping onto, inflammation and reactivity to what takes place. The teachings show the danger of this.
We have the potential to see right through the projections and clinging. We need to free our being up. The dissolution of clinging is liberating. It is also simultaneously awakening. We gave real emphasis to this last week. We will also give emphasis to freedom this week. We can find authentic freedom in life not overshadowed with clinging, projections and inflammation of situations. We take another avenue this evening together. This approach involves Truth and freedom.
I would like us to begin with a short meditation and reflection for four or five minutes. Then from there, I will respond to your questions, whether written ones in the right-hand corner or the face-to-face. Face to face will provide an opportunity for more exchange. Silence and stillness give a sense of the presence of the whole being – sitting tall. The upright posture is steady and stabilised.
Inwardly, I invite you to ask a small but important question. When using the language of ‘What is Truth?’ keep with the silence and stillness. Keep the question in eyes closed. Listen into the deep within the being. See if there is any response comes. A corresponding question. This question is not so distinct. What is freedom? What is the sense of freedom? Have they been moments recently of the sense of freedom? Let us have four of five minutes together. Then we will engage in some exchange and exploration.
I will also close my eyes. I will also engage in the same reflection in the silence. stay in the silence and stillness. What is truth? What is freedom? Listen deeply. Be patient. See if any response emerges. Thank you for the silence and the stillness .it is so precious. We have this session together.
I see there are four questions.
We are concentrating on deep Dharma. We concentrate on the Goal. We wish to take a sustained interest in the Goal. We wish to take this interest into our daily life. We wish to maximise the Goal as our priority. The goal is precious and valuable. It is worthwhile to keep faith and engage in an exploration of it. Put the Goal in the centre of consciousness.
I hope this time with you is an inspiration and provides insight. I will read the questions out and respond. From the meeting we had last week, I transcribed the questions and answers and placed on my Christopher Titmuss Dharma Blog. You can Google search, if you wish. You will see the full transcription from last Sunday. There is a little polishing for the written purposes. I will transcribe the same again with today’s meeting.
Question: Do Vipassana, Chan and Zen techniques differ in the attainment? Can we become fully enlightened, as a sincere practitioner, following a simple concentration technique, such as being on the breath? Is a technique simply pointing at the truth and over and over? So we have to realise the ultimate ourselves?
It is important in my view, we see the relative benefits of method, technique and meditation form. We need to be mindful of not exaggerating the relativity of methods and techniques. Meditation techniques are a support – like a scaffolding for a house. They provide a benefit. It is a step way too far to consider method and technique of any school, tradition, lineage, past or contemporary, as the cause for enlightenment. Technique never caused enlightenment. There is no track record of this. If technique caused enlightenment, then the obvious thing would be to follow the same technique morning, noon and night until it caused enlightenment.
The meditation technique does not have the power, nor responsibility. What we can say is that there is a benefit for consciousness, for mind and body through meditatin techniques. We engage in meditative explorations and appreciate form. See the validity and benefit of form and appreciate equally the formless. Appreciate the absence of form as well. It is like the left-hand and right-hand. If we explore both, we might discover liberation. We might discover the embrace of the form and the formless. The Truth of that is significant. Next question.
Question: In your book, Light on Enlightenment, you say the end of all suffering reveals the end of all clinging. Does the end of all clinging reveal the very moment of enlightenment? Would that mean the end of all clinging is the very moment of liberation and enlightenment.
In the words and explore I use: Liberation is the same as being awake. Being awake is the same as freedom. In the seeing and knowing of this, there is the end, the cessation, the absence of any clinging. There is a knowing of its absence. This gives the human being a sense of freedom. This allows and enables what is precious and the best of our ‘selves,’ so to speak, to be accessible.
The Buddha made it clear that there will be at times of a re-emergence for most people of some clinging, holding, grasping, fear, conceit, foolishness or naivete. This freedom from clinging recognises, early as possible, of anything we hold onto that is taking place. The Buddha pointed out that we cannot hide our faults from ourselves, nor from others. There is a deep commitment to end any re-emergence of clinging. This is important to remember as well. We are not on the path of making ourselves perfect.
Question: The truth of experiences are important I wish to touch upon these. An inflamed state of mind helps me to understand this term ‘clinging’ and ‘attachment.’. Is equanimity the right antidote? Let me offer a classical view.
It is important to engage in the exploration of Truth. It is important to understand the way the Buddha employs truth in Dharma teachings. (Equanimity is one antidote to clinging. Change of conditions, insights and exploration of a different attiude are other antidotes).
The most well-known, classic statement of the Buddha states: These are the Four Truths of the Noble ones. He did not say: “There are Four Noble Truths.” Suffering is not noble. The Four Truths of the Noble Ones means that women and men in all walks of life, who live deeply committed to the resolution of suffering, express a noble way of being. That commitment to the resolution of suffering, as the Buddha pointed out, expresses internally and externally (for oneself and others). There is the Truth of suffering. The Pali word for Truth is Sacca (Satya in Sanskrit). My daughter’s middle name is Satya. Sacca does mean a task to deal with suffering.
The Truth is a powerful statement. In this world, there is the Truth of suffering. There is no statement from the Buddha’s, where he says that life is suffering.
The second truth states there are causes and conditions for suffering. Last week and today we touch upon causes and conditions, such as clinging, holding, not seeing, reactions and inflammation to situations. We changed the causes/conditions so when they go out, then the suffering will go out as well.
Thirdly there is the resolution of suffering. The fourth truth states there is the way to end suffering. A focused and concentrated life attends to these four truths, which have significant importance for thoughtful, caring and loving human beings.
Question: At what point in the interaction with a close relative, does right effort mean to break all contact? I have recently broken contact with my mother due to her slapping my child. This is illegal in Sweden. I told her we do not wish to see her again. Instead of feeling liberated, I feel grief and an inability to let go of clinging for the wish for things to be different.
There are questions about the family dynamic here. There is the experience, concern and compassion, which is so important to protect the child. I would hesitate to make a statement to anybody, such as “I do not wish to see you again.” I think that closure can close the line to support. A person may not see or realise the violence of hitting. It will take communication. The child’s support and protection comes first. Secondly, it will take discussion and dialogue with the person, who hit the child until you feel confident the child will not have to be subjected to that again. If you can reach out to somebody you know may be able to talk to the person, so that she understands her responsibility and shows sensitivity towards the child. A child experiences a trauma when hit. I hope this response is helpful. Keep Exploring. It is important. Endeavour to keep the communication flowing. Be patient.
Question: I practised this week investigating into the conditions of conflict and suffering. The mind has a habit to drift away into complex stories about I and me. How can I know I really have found the condition and that the mind is not telling me another story? How can I avoid getting lost in papanca, the proliferation of thought? What do I do if clarity is missing?
Focusing and give priority to the second significant Truth of life. Any suffering arises because the conditions are there. We need to make some allowances for some movements of mind into I and my while giving attention to the conditions for suffering. There may be production of unhelpful thoughts. It is to see the bare truth of that. Be receptive and patient to something which is deeper
We know when we have changed the view because the sense of freeing up provides the mind and heart with a clarity about the situation. We see the situation in a fresh way. We may not be able to explain why we do. We may not be able to define why we see in a fresh way. We know. This is the key. We know we are seeing in a fresh way. That fresh way is the confirmation of the clarity. You response to it is the confirmation. It affects the way you think. It affects the way you speak or write about it. It affects the way you respond. You know your clarity through the change and dissolving of the projections, conditioning or reactivity. You know because the change affects the way you look at the situation, think about it, speak about it and respond to it. That is the confirmation. You can know directly the confirmation.
One person would like to come on screen. You are very welcome. It takes a few seconds to make the transition from writing sentences to appearing on screen. Where are you, may I ask?
I am in Leipzig. I am confronted with death. I told you last week. There is a lot of sadness in my life and in the lives of those around me. We are all losing loved ones. I have the impression I am suffering when I am sad. At the same time, I do not see an end to this kind of sadness could be possible. It is the other side of love. I am lost here. Yes, (you say) there is an end to suffering. At the same time if sadness is suffering, then there must be an end to sadness. I cannot see any end to sadness. Is it understanding love in a way which never ends? Maybe this is possible, but it sounds difficult.
CT: May I ask at the beginning. Feelings and emotion are in your voice. Did you have in mind anybody experiencing such sadness? Is it a family member? Is it with regard to yourself?
It is myself. I have cancer. I going to die in the next months. I constantly lose abilities. I’m also losing possibilities to be with people. Family members live far away. I cannot travel any more. I won’t see them anymore. Once I am dying, then all my children and my wife and so on ….
CT: How old are your kids?
I have five kids. One years old, five years, 19 years, 21 years and 23 years.
CT: Impressive. Thank you very much for sharing with myself and with others. When we communicated last week and this week, we touched upon, as I recall, the fears and worries about the loss and the separation from the children. Is there anything which helps you to stay steady with this whole process and with the vulnerability of your life? Is anything which helps you keep steady with all of this?
A lot. The support of many family and friends around. I have the support of the spiritual community. I read Stephen Levine’s book A Year to Live. There is a lot of support around me. There is sadness in the same time
CT. It is a lovely book. Are your older children fully up-to-date with your condition?
CT: In that respect, there is an openness which you communicate with us as well. You keep everybody informed about the process.
CT.. That is important.
Am keeping others informed about the internal and external process.
CT.I would like to make a distinction. Yes of course love supports you coming comes from family members your networks and the Sangha. Support also comes through the good books like Stephen Levine’s book. And much more.
Sadness is healthy. Sadness is essential. It is the confirmation of sensitivities. It is not something that we have to dissolve nor get rid of. Sadness involves loss and separation. We can feel sad with regard to wars or the future which gives uncertainties and insecurities. Sadness will be regularly present in your life. The Buddha experienced sadness at the death of his friends. Sadness is not to be regarded in the same way as a problematic mind state. It is regarded as a healthy response to certain situations.
The vulnerability of sadness shows when it becomes wanting, which makes a pressure and desire for circumstances to be different. This desire generates stress and anxiety. It is not easy. It is an immense challenge for you to feel at home with the feeling of sadness. You do not have to treat it as something difficult. Rest in your sadness. Recognise a variety of experiences when you do not feel sad. You are playing with the kids. You are with your good friends. You enjoy what you see, hear and taste. KSamnow those appreciations. You can maximise your love for the kids, your wife and good friends. Maximise the love.
You could ask them: “Please do not keep asking me ‘how are you?’” People they know with a health issue, the first question they ask is: “How are you?” Cancer is important but there is more to life than cancer. Your receptivity to that which is outside of physical health is important. You want to make sure that your friends, family and loved ones know that you are alive, well and tuned in. That will please them. Your kids will love that as well. Anything else you wanted to say?
No, I think not for the moment. Thank you.
CT: It was lovely to talk with you. Our love and appreciation for your sharing and openness is with us. Thank you
Thank you, Christopher. Thank you everybody
Question: After meditating at night, I find it hard to let go of samadhi to go into the dream state of sleep. Is this clinging to samadhi? Upon waking it is also difficult to let go of the dream state into waking?
(Extra energy may contribute making it hard to sleep rather than clinging). Dreams are precious. The Buddha referred to five dreams before his awakening. Deep Jungian analysts would love analysing the Buddha’s dreams. Samadhi – sam means coming together and di means on a particular. Samadhis is the capcity to focus on something and stay steady with it. Samadhi include the long-term. There is a samadhi required to concentrate on the support for others as an example. Sometimes, we leave the samadhi and we go into the sleep state. There are dreams. Dreams can provide a lot of insight to contribute to real waking up. The formation of the dream consists of the dreamer and the dream. The dreamer, that means the witness of the dream, is also the dream. This means the dreamer is everything in the dream. Sometimes insights may emerge from the dream, which contributes to waking us up. There is nothing problematic in the dream. It is a way for the inner life to communicate something deep.
In matters of Truth, sometimes in religion and science, statements are made from research, from the laboratory and the assembly of views or views found in a holy/religious book, or from a Master, Guru or Dharma teacher.
None can confirm Truth. This is important. Truth and the view are different. I read a book. I watch a talk on the Youtube. I go to listen to a public talk. I do these things! There is a dynamic taking place of the reader with what is read. There is a listener and who we listen to. There is a viewer of what is viewed. In that interactivity, such as our interactivity right now, some views may come across, which we find helpful and useful. These views are beneficial. The truth transcends the view. I mean that when truth touches us, it brings out of us an important response. Truth opens up our life. The Truth contributes to setting us free. Fresh insights may emerge. Views do not have the authority to set us free. Information is the same. Views and information may pay a relatively useful part in our daily life. We have to discern the usefulness of information and views. You have to let go and do without what is superfluous.
We can maximise the receptivity to be in touch with truth. We know when truth touches us because of a freeing up, an awakening or realisation. We knowing what was not there before. This is what truth is. In that respect, scientists cannot have truth. Buddhists can’t have truth. Truth is not found in religious books. It is not found in a meditation method or technique. It is not found in any form or lineage. These approaches may be supportive conditions. Truth liberates. It contributes to waking us up. It is not easy to put into a formulation of language. I hope this makes clear the distinction between truth, views and information. Gosh, it is 5.45pm in Totnes in Devon. We are just warming up here on a rather cold day. 15 more minutes.
With regard to truth, it can come rather unexpectedly. We may not realise the depth of the receptivity. A few words, an emergence out of the nature, a line in a song, a meditation experience can be the spark that helps us to see clearly the truth of things.
I do not agree with the view that the truth is inexpressible. If that was the case, then everything we say, namely the expressible, is not the truth. Truth, a liberating expression, touches deeply. It is also important to know mindfulness, a quiet clarity and inner peace to find the words – accurate, honest and precise. We use words to make them as close to the truth as can communicate. In the absence of greed, negativity, fear and anxiety, we are close to the truth. We are able to speak without the distortions and demands on others or ourselves. Negativity, blame and fear corrupts and obstructs speaking and writing the language of truth.
It is not a situation where you have your truth and I have my truth. This is a fiction. Truth is one without a second. There is no duplication to truth. There is no situation that there are many truths and everybody has their truth. This is a conventional fiction. It is false. It is a deception. Truth is one. It has no second. It manifests. It touches us deeply. We stay true to it because it is liberating. The recognition of truth expresses languages which may vary. There is a secular language, spiritual language, religious language and other kinds of language. This shows a real sense of our calm respectful sensitivity to speak and to write our words to listen to another. Amidst the views and opinions, we cans sense something which is true and singular. There is truthfulness. This is great task of human beings. Truth is deathless.
This Truth is accessible. There is the construction of Truth in the language. The Truth of suffering. The Truth of causes and conditions. The Truth of the resolution. The Truth of the way. It is a helpful and supportive language construction of truth. The deepest Truth is unconstructible. We cannot form it. It is unconditioned. Therefore, it is immeasurable. This is the best.
Question: Your words just now are hugely helpful. Would you say that truth is an experience?
No. The reason I say ‘No’ because it would set a limit. Some people have realised truth, including the Buddha, women and men on the Earth of many generations through the recognition of an experience or regular experiences. Out of these experiences, the Truth emerged. The Truth came out experience. which contributed to a change of life, of values, of direction or none of that. Truth may show as a change of attitude or recognition. We keep trust because some truths emerged out of seeing the Truth. Truth is limitless and cannot be boxed, nor formed, nor dependent upon an experience.
There are women and men who have listened to a teaching. In the midst of the teaching, he or she cannot say “I had an extraordinary experience.” There is a seeing and knowing of the truth which sets the person free. There were no feelings, nor thoughts nor experience associated with the Truth that the person realised. There is simply a seeing and a knowing. Experiences, precious as they are, are important but that does not limit Truth to experience. We may not limit Truth to experience but that does not make truth theoretical, abstract or vague. It is still truth which has a liberating power to it.
Question. Since I was a child I have always been looking for the truth in every situation in the way that you are talking about now. Finally, I’m hearing someone doing that. I have never thought of enlightenment. Is there something wrong with me?
No. No. And No again. There are words and the feelings which accompany the words. Some words can seem very big. One of the ‘biggest words’ is enlightenment. Enlightenment can seem extraordinarily distant from the human being. A person thinks “Enlightenment only happens once in every millennium.” “Enlightenment only happens to another.” If the word ‘enlightenment’ gives the feeling of something vast, distant and completely unreachable, then the word has gone past its sell by date. Drop it. Don’t bother with it. Let it go. Don’t use such a word.
For others, the response to the word ‘enlightenment’ may feel different. Their response may be: “It is no big deal to live an enlightened life.” Such a person may still attend to issue and address misunderstanding and errors of judgement. You and I and others may have to deal with such matters. The general principle of living an enlightened life seems sensible and obvious. Nothing special about it. Nothing for the ego to grasp onto. We have that wonderful potential. An enlightened life puts our modest adventure on this earth into a perspective, so that one does not feel bound, so to speak, by the polarities of birth and death. An enlightened life communicates the truth of this. If the word ‘enlightenment ‘or an ‘enlightened life’ seems ‘woh, woh, woh’ then let the words go. Listen to your responses. That is significant and beautiful. We are coming up to three minute to 8 pm. A response from the person dealing with cancer …
The most important thing which help me to avoid questions about my health was to write a blog so that people can be informed without asking me or my wife.
It is an act of kindness and compassion to keep people informed in different ways
A summary: An exploration into life takes an interest in truth. There is a receptivity to it. There are an infinite number of ways for Truth to reveal itself. Truth is pragmatic, down-to-earth and non-idealistic. Truth changes our life, our way of viewing or our attitude. There is a freshness of engagement. We sense Truth sets us free. This access to Truth is more easily available with the diminishing of problematic mind states that challenge us which we work with.
Our feeling life shows itself as being respectful to the sensitivity of the being, such as to feel sadness through separation or loss. We learn to rest with the sadness. We can be at peace with the sadness and also with the brevity of our existence. Stako that we can engage in our small acts of love to loved ones, strangers and the unfriendly. This shows a real interest in the four truths and confirms a noble way of life. That is a real interest in Truth, which is one without a second. Let’s take a real interest in awakening which Truth can bring to us. Let’s make truth our priority day in day out.
Next week ,we will explore Freedom and Love. We will explore the relationship of the heart to liberation. There are areas of extraordinary intimacy of the Immeasurable and love. Love and the Immeasurable confirm the reality of other. Do bring your questions.
It is now one minutes past eight. I will pass you over to Amy. She will say a few words. I look forward to our ongoing exploration Sunday. Thank you. Namaste.
Here is the link to the Video broadcast. 60 mins.