Samsara and the nirvana – magic. It is a magic. Very samsara is the very nirvana. You cannot get rid of samsara and try to find the nirvana. You cannot get rid of water and try to find moisture.
As long as you are bound by the manifestation of cause, condition and effect, you are not liberated. That’s called samsara. When you are free from that, it’s called nirvana. But right now our small mind will not even begin to fathom a state where one will not be bound by manifestation of cause, condition and effect.
Please make my dharma practice successful. What does success mean? Success means that your dharma practice does not lead you to the samsara but to the nirvana or in fact in the mahayana go beyond.
You know we read Sutras. And then in our mind we compose a suffering. A samsara, intellectual samsara. And then we read Sutras and then we compose an intellectual nirvana. Now there is a real samsara and there is a real nirvana. We Buddhist we are trying to abandon the intellectual samsara and trying to achieve the intellectual nirvana. And we are not even one inch we are going to give up the real samsara and we don’t even think about the real nirvana. Because real nirvana is beyond our emotion.
So I will now conclude with quoting from two great masters. Great Chandrakirti, one of the greatest commentator on Buddhist philosophy. He said: “If you are an idiot, you will do lots of bad things and go to hell.” And then second line. “Also if you are an idiot, you do a lot of good things and go to heaven.” Idiot, both. Now: “If you are a wise, you will go beyond doing good and bad and reach liberation.” Very very important presentation of fundamental Buddhist view. That is ultimate view presentation. But, to help you understand the relative aspect of Buddhism, let me quote another great master, Shantideva. He said: “There is one ignorance that Buddhist must keep for a while. That is thinking that there is a nirvana.” And why should we keep that. Because you don’t want to suffer. I mean if you want to suffer, no problem. But if you don’t want to suffer, then the Buddhist should keep one ignorance for the time being, and that is thinking that there is a nirvana.
Okay, now path. Now we should talk about the path. The Buddhist philosophy or the view of non duality is not just an intellectual exercise that is written somewhere, so that you can read for your intellectual satisfaction and put it back on the bookshelf. The fundamental Buddhist view is something that can be realized and actualized. Let’s go back to the dream again. Let’s say that you are dreaming, having a nightmare. Nightmare of falling from a cliff. In the middle of, as you are falling, in the middle, you realize you have been dreaming. What will you do? Actually, you don’t have to do anything. You might even want to enjoy because you know that this is not really happening but at the same time it’s happening. So you know normally you cannot fly. But in the dream you also know how to fly. So taking advantage of that. Because you know, ultimately you are not going to get hurt. Ultimately there is no such thing as cliff. When you can do that, it’s called liberation. In other words, nirvana. So as you know, as you can see, the Buddhist concept of something like a heaven or the nirvana is really freedom from obsession to this dualistic phenomena. Going back to the dream again. When you dream that you are falling from a cliff. If you dream, that you are falling from a cliff, you know very well, before you dreamed there was no cliff. Before you even sleep, you know there is no cliff. And during the sleep and during the dream, during the nightmare, is there really a cliff? No. Lastly, when you wake up from the nightmare, you have this amazing relief that you have never had a cliff and falling. Even the relief is fake because you have never been falling from the cliff. So how can you feel relieved from not falling. That is nirvana. And that is something that we can achieve. It is not something that you read and put it on the bookshelf. It is something that you can achieve. Okay now here comes the big question. In order to achieve this then we have all the practices. And all this practices they appear to be very dualistic. Why is that? Because if you are already dreaming, you cannot really sort of – okay if you are already having a nightmare, only way to wake up from that nightmare is going through the nightmare isn’t it. You cannot sort of wake up from that nightmare and then have a liberation of the nightmare that doesn’t exist. So the concept of waking up from a nightmare does exist because there is a nightmare exist. Let me explain this. This is a little bit twisting here. If you are having a nightmare like falling from the cliff, bucket of cold water at you by somebody helps, because you wake up. But is the bucket of the water making the cliff disappear? No. Why? Because the cliff does not exist. So the bucket of cold water is not destroying any problems. But still the bucket of cold water relatively speaking woke you up. So in Buddhism we have lots of bucket water. Shaving head is one of those bucket water. Going to the caves and do like retreats, that is another bucket water. Prayers, meditations, incense sticks, lamp offerings, statue buildings, stupa circumambulation, all of these is like bucket of water.
In fact, bluntly speaking, when a Mahayana bodhisattva is taking refuge, not like all the other practitioners, who will take refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to protect them from samsara only. Mahayana bodhisattvas they take refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to protect them from both, samsara and nirvana.
Now, let’s discuss a little bit about sattva. The word Bodhisattva has a connotation of a courageous being, a courageous person. When we talk about courage, we are not only talking about being able to face the enemy or the problem. We are also talking about being able to give up, do without friends, path, the tools that you use to counter the enemy. You should also be able to do without. That is really very profound courage. This is why the Mahayana path is the path that is not only afraid of samsara, but is also afraid of nirvana.
The Essence of Shantideva’s Writings, Prague 2010
You know, mya ngan las ‘das pa zhi ba’o means basically something like “Enlightenment is peace”. Sometimes it is considered like that. Peace. This of course misleads lots of people, thinking peaceful in the sense of – you know the standard peaceful like Koi Pond, Zen Garden, mountain, nobody bothering you. Weekend situation for instance. Or a holiday excursion to Hawaii, where you will not be bothered. Or also not only that, just even the religious sort of peace, like smiling, walking gently, brushing your teeth gently and with a mindfulness. All of that. That kind of peace, we talk about that kind of peace a lot.
Mya ngan las ‘das pa zhi ba’o, nirvana is peace. That peace has to go beyond that. In this case what is peace. Nonduality. Because the duality is the violence. The moment you create the duality it is a violence. It is a violence and it creates a lot of violence.
Let’s go back to our mirror situation. The moment you differentiate, the moment you divorce between the appearance of your face and the emptiness of your face in the mirror there is a violence. Why? Because when you divorce these two you are bound to fall into on of the extremes, either nihilism or eternalism. If you fall into that, then you will construct thesis. You will construct approach. And this is how it becomes violent. Nirvana on the other hand has deconstructed all the dualism, therefore actually the real peace, real ahimsa, I am say it is maybe under the second category. The peace, the nirvana peace is actually when you reach the nonduality, experience of the nonduality is the real peace.