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Aug 6, 2009

The Inner light of Dhamma

The architectural wonder of the Global Pagoda, the lighthouse of Dhamma, aims to create awareness about the inner light of Vipassana. This inner wisdom gained from practice of Vipassana becomes our guiding light in life, best friend, most beneficial companion.

Bird's eye view of the Global Pagoda, Mumbai, India. Dhamma Pattana Vipassana centre is in foreground. Image source: forum.skyscraperpage.com
Nothing in the outside world is responsible for our happiness or misery. This truth of nature becomes clear, by direct experience, to a Vipassana practitioner.

At the apparent level, external objects seem to produce varying responses in us through our sense organs. We like, dislike or are indifferent to various experiences in the outside world. But in reality, the mind is actually in contact with various bodily sensations, the inner bio-chemical flow caused when we come in contact with sensory objects - pleasant or unpleasant vision to the eye, sound to the ear, touch to the body, taste to the tongue, smell to the nose, pleasant or unpleasant thought in the mind. This is the apparent reality.

But the deepest part of the mind has nothing to do with these external, worldly objects, says Principal Vipassana teacher Sayagyi U S.N.Goenka. He has often reminded that the root of the mind, where the actual conditioning takes place, is constantly in touch with the bodily sensations. In reality, one is reacting with craving and aversion to the bodily sensations, not to external objects.

Vipassana practice involves experiencing this deeper reality, and coming out of delusions.

The actual story of our life is the actual reality of bodily sensations, and how we respond to it.
Blind reaction to this impermanent, changing bio-chemical flow within the body is impurity and suffering. Equanimity is purity and happiness. When we carelessly and heedlessly forget this truth of nature, we fall and suffer. Then we remember, get up and start walking on the Dhamma journey again.
In the seven-day Satipatthana course, the Dhamma discourse of Day One says:
"Practising with paññā (experiential wisdom), you will understand dukkha (suffering) with your own experience. Every pleasant experience, every pleasant situation is anicca (change).

Everything within the framework of the body changes into something unpleasant, so it is nothing but dukkha. The law of nature is such. Yet the tendency of the mind is to get attached and cling to a pleasant experience, and when it is gone you feel so miserable.

This is not a philosophy but a truth to be experienced by pattivedhana: dividing, dissecting, disintegrating, dissolving you reach the stage of bhanga (or total dissolution, in which the Vipassana student experiences the physical structure of one's body as subtle sensations, very rapidly arising and passing away as wavelets, as a free flow). You witness the solidified, material structure, the body, as actually nothing but subatomic particles, kalāpas (sub-atomic, indivisible, building block of matter), arising and passing.

Similarly the mind and mental contents manifest as very solidified, intensified emotions—anger, fear, or passion—which overpower you. Vipassana, pattivedhana, helps you. With piercing, penetrating paññā you divide, dissect, disintegrate to the stage where this intense emotion is nothing but wavelets. The whole material and mental structures and the mental contents are nothing but wavelets, wavelets, anicca, anicca.

Then the reality about this "I" or "mine" or "myself" becomes clear. They are just conventional words. There is no "I" to possess this mind-matter structure, these material and mental phenomena. Mere mind and matter constantly interact, constantly influence each other, and become a cause for the arising of each other, resulting in currents, cross-currents, and under-currents going on in what you call "I." Anattā becomes clear at the experiential level.

Anicca, dukkha, anattā—that is, impermanence, misery, and egolessness—should not just be taken as a sectarian philosophy. They don’t apply just to those who call themselves '
Buddhists' (*). Everyone, man or woman, of any colour or religion, is merely a constant interaction of mind and matter. Out of ignorance, enormous attachment develops to this false ego, this "I," which brings nothing but misery.

The law of nature becomes so clear with pattivedhana, with piercing, penetrating paññā. Without this, mere awareness will not help because you will always remain with the apparent truth, and you won’t understand the real, ultimate truth. A circus girl on a tightrope is very aware of every step she takes. Her life and parts of her body are in danger. Still she is far from liberation, because she is only with apparent truth, not with paññā inside."

This penetrating wisdom of Vipassana practice, or pattivedhana, is the laser-beam like powerful inner light of wisdom that is our real refuge and safe harbour in the voyage through life - from day to day, moment to moment.

Nothing in the outside world can help us as much as the penetrating inner Dhamma light of being aware and equanimous to bodily sensations. The closer we live with this truth, with Dhamma, the more happy and beneficial our lives will be.

The Global Pagoda is a towering, inspiring reminder that one's real work is to develop this inner light of purity and wisdom, be one's own lighthouse, and share, with all beings, all the benefits thereby gained.

The Buddha did not teach 'Buddhism' (Why the Grand Vipassana Pagoda)

* Special One-day course on October 4
* Global Pagoda development projects