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The Quest for Awakening

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Before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, being subject myself to birth, aging, illness, Death, sorrow, and defilement, I sought [[[happiness]] in] what was subject to birth, aging, illness, Death, sorrow, and defilement. The thought occurred to me: "Why am I, being subject myself to birth... defilement, seeking what is subject to birth... defilement? What if I... were to seek the unborn, unaging, unailing, undying, sorrowless, undefiled, unsurpassed security from bondage: Unbinding."

So at a later time, when I was still young, black-haired, endowed with the blessings of youth in the first stage of Life, I shaved off my Hair and beard — though my parents wished otherwise and were grieving with tears on their faces — and I put on the ochre robe and went forth from the home Life into homelessness.

Having gone forth in search of what might be skillful, seeking the unexcelled state of sublime peace, I went to where Alara Kalama was staying and, on arrival, said to him: "I want to practice in this Doctrine and discipline."

When this was said, he replied to me, "You may stay here. This Doctrine is such that a wise person can soon enter and dwell in his own teacher's Knowledge, having realized it for himself through direct Knowledge."

I quickly learned the Doctrine. As far as mere lip-reciting and repetition, I could speak the words of Knowledge, the words of the elders, and I could affirm that I knew and saw — I, along with others.

I thought: "It isn't through mere conviction alone that Alara Kalama declares, 'I have entered and dwell in this Dhamma, having realized it directly for myself.' Certainly he dwells knowing and seeing this Dhamma." So I went to him and said, "To what extent do you declare that you have entered and dwell in this Dhamma?" When this was said, he declared the dimension of nothingness.

I thought: "Not only does Alara Kalama have conviction, persistence, Mindfulness, Concentration, and discernment. I, too, have conviction, persistence, Mindfulness, Concentration, and discernment. Suppose I were to endeavor to realize for myself the Dhamma that Alara Kalama declares he has entered and dwells in..." So it was not long before I entered and dwelled in that Dhamma, having realized it for myself through direct Knowledge. I went to him and said, "Friend Kalama, is this the extent to which you have entered and dwell in this Dhamma, having realized it for yourself through direct Knowledge?"

"Yes..."

"This is the extent to which I, too, have entered and dwell in this Dhamma, having realized it for myself through direct Knowledge."

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"It is a gain for us, a great gain for us, that we have such a companion in the holy Life... As I am, so are you; as you are, so am I. Come friend, let us now lead this community together."

In this way did Alara Kalama, my teacher, place me, his pupil, on the same level with himself and pay me great honor. But the thought occurred to me, "This Dhamma leads not to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to stilling, to direct Knowledge, to Awakening, nor to Unbinding, but only to reappearance in the dimension of nothingness." So, dissatisfied with that Dhamma, I left.

— M 26

"Now, Aggivessana, these three similes — spontaneous, never before heard — appeared to me. Suppose there were a wet, sappy piece of timber lying in the water, and a man were to come along with an upper Fire-stick, thinking, 'I'll Light a Fire. I'll produce heat.' Now what do you think? Would he be able to Light a Fire and produce heat by rubbing the upper Fire-stick in the wet, sappy timber lying in the water?"

"No, Master Gotama..."

"So it is with any Brahman or contemplative who does not live withdrawn from sensuality in Body and mind, and whose desire, infatuation, urge, thirst, and fever for sensuality is not relinquished and stilled within him: Whether or not he feels painful, racking, piercing feelings due to his striving [for Awakening), he is incapable of Knowledge, vision, and unexcelled self-Awakening...

"Then a second simile — spontaneous, never before heard — appeared to me. Suppose there were a wet, sappy piece of timber lying on land far from water, and a man were to come along with an upper Fire-stick, thinking, 'I'll Light a Fire. I'll produce heat.' Now what do you think? Would he be able to Light a Fire and produce heat by rubbing the upper Fire-stick in the wet, sappy timber lying on land?"

"No, Master Gotama..."

"So it is with any Brahman or contemplative who lives withdrawn from sensuality in Body only, but whose desire, infatuation, urge, thirst, and fever for sensuality is not relinquished and stilled within him: Whether or not he feels painful, racking, piercing feelings due to his striving, he is incapable of Knowledge, vision, and unexcelled self-Awakening...

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"Then a third simile — spontaneous, never before heard — appeared to me. Suppose there were a dry, sapless piece of timber lying on land far from water, and a man were to come along with an upper Fire-stick, thinking, 'I'll Light a Fire. I'll produce heat.' Now what do you think? Would he be able to Light a Fire and produce heat by rubbing the upper Fire-stick in the dry, sapless timber lying on land?"

"Yes, Master Gotama..."

"So it is with any Brahman or contemplative who lives withdrawn from sensuality in Body and mind, and whose desire, infatuation, urge, thirst, and fever for sensuality is relinquished and stilled within him: Whether or not he feels painful, racking, piercing feelings due to his striving, he is capable of Knowledge, vision, and unexcelled self-Awakening...

"I thought: 'Suppose that I, clenching my teeth and pressing my tongue against the roof of my mouth, were to beat down, constrain, and crush my mind with my awareness'... So, just as if a strong man, seizing a weaker man by the head or the throat or the shoulders would beat him down, constrain and crush him, in the same way I beat down, constrained, and crushed my mind with my awareness. As I did so, sweat poured from my armpits. But although tireless persistence was aroused in me, and unmuddled Mindfulness established, my Body was aroused and uncalm because of the painful exertion. But the painful feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

"I thought: 'Suppose I were to become absorbed in the trance of non-breathing.' So I stopped the in-breaths and out-breaths in my nose and mouth. As I did so, there was a loud roaring of winds coming out my earholes, just like the loud roar of winds coming out of a smith's bellows... So I stopped the in-breaths and out-breaths in my nose and mouth and ears. As I did so, extreme forces sliced through my head, just as if a strong man were slicing my head open with a sharp sword... Extreme pains arose in my head, just as if a strong man were tightening a turban made of tough leather straps around my head... Extreme forces carved up my stomach cavity, just as if a butcher or his apprentice were to carve up the stomach cavity of an ox... There was an extreme burning in my Body, just as if two strong men, grabbing a weaker man by the arms, were to roast and broil him over a pit of hot embers. But although tireless persistence was aroused in me, and unmuddled Mindfulness established, my Body was aroused and uncalm because of the painful exertion. But the painful feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

"Devas, on seeing me, said, 'Gotama the contemplative is dead.' Other devas said, 'He isn't dead, he's dying.' Others said, 'He's neither dead nor dying, he's an Arahant, for this is the way Arahants live.'

"I thought: 'Suppose I were to practice going altogether without Food.' Then devas came to me and said, 'Dear sir, please don't practice going altogether without Food. If you go altogether without Food, we'll infuse divine nourishment in through your pores, and you will survive on that.' I thought, 'If I were to claim to be completely Fasting while these devas are infusing divine nourishment in through my pores, I would be lying.' So I dismissed them, saying, 'Enough.'

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"I thought: 'Suppose I were to take only a little Food at a time, only a handful at a time of bean soup, lentil soup, vetch soup, or pea soup.' So I took only a little Food at a time, only handful at a time of bean soup, lentil soup, vetch soup, or pea soup. My Body became extremely emaciated. Simply from my eating so little, my limbs became like the jointed segments of vine stems or bamboo stems... My backside became like a camel's hoof... My spine stood out like a string of beads... My ribs jutted out like the jutting rafters of an old, run-down barn... The gleam of my eyes appeared to be sunk deep in my eye sockets like the gleam of water deep in a well... My scalp shriveled and withered like a green bitter gourd, shriveled and withered in the heat and the wind... The skin of my belly became so stuck to my spine that when I thought of touching my belly, I grabbed hold of my spine as well; and when I thought of touching my spine, I grabbed hold of the skin of my belly as well... If I urinated or defecated, I fell over on my face right there... Simply from my eating so little, if I tried to ease my Body by rubbing my limbs with my hands, the Hair — rotted at its roots — fell from my Body as I rubbed...

"I thought: 'Whatever brahmans or contemplatives in the past have felt painful, racking, piercing feelings due to their striving, this is the utmost. None have been greater than this. Whatever brahmans or contemplatives in the future... in the present are feeling painful, racking, piercing feelings due to their striving, this is the utmost. None is greater than this. But with this racking practice of austerities I have not attained any superior human state, any distinction in Knowledge or vision worthy of the noble ones. Could there be another path to Awakening?'

"I thought: 'I recall once, when my father the Sakyan was working, and I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, then — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities — I entered and remained in the first Jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. Could that be the path to Awakening?' Then, following on that memory, came the realization: 'That is the path to Awakening... So why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities?' I thought: 'I am no longer afraid of that pleasure... but it is not easy to achieve that pleasure with a Body so extremely emaciated...' So I took some solid Food: some rice and porridge. Now five monks had been attending on me, thinking, 'If Gotama, our contemplative, achieves some higher state, he will tell us.' But when they saw me taking some solid Food — some rice and porridge — they were disgusted and left me, thinking, 'Gotama the contemplative is living luxuriously. He has abandoned his exertion and is backsliding into abundance.'

"So when I had taken solid Food and regained strength, then — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful mental qualities, I entered and remained in the first Jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, I entered and remained in the second Jhana: rapture and pleasure born of composure, unification of awareness free from directed thought and evaluation — internal assurance... With the fading of rapture I remained in Equanimity, mindful and alert, and physically sensitive of pleasure. I entered and remained in the third Jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous and mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.'... With the abandoning of pleasure and pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress — I entered and remained in the fourth Jhana: purity of Equanimity and Mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

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"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the Knowledge of recollecting my past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two... five, ten... fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion, many eons of cosmic contraction and expansion: 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my Food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my Life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my Food, such my experience of pleasure and pain, such the end of my Life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus I remembered my manifold past lives in their modes and details.

"This was the first Knowledge I attained in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; Knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; Light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, and resolute. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the Knowledge of the passing away and reappearance of beings. I saw — by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the humanbeings passing away and re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their Kamma: 'These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of Body, speech, and mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the Body, after Death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in Hell. But these beings — who were endowed with good conduct of Body, speech and mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — with the break-up of the Body, after Death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly World.' Thus — by means of the divine eye, purified and surpassing the human — I saw beings passing away and re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, fortunate and unfortunate in accordance with their Kamma.

"This was the second Knowledge I attained in the second watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; Knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; Light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, and resolute. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the Knowledge of the ending of the mental effluents (Asava). I discerned, as it had come to be, that 'This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress... These are effluents... This is the origination of effluents... This is the cessation of effluents... This is the way leading to the cessation of effluents.' My Heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, was released from the effluent of sensuality, released from the effluent of becoming, released from the effluent of Ignorance. With release, there was the Knowledge, 'Released.' I discerned that 'Birth is ended, the holy Life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this World.'

"This was the third Knowledge I attained in the third watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; Knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; Light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, and resolute. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain."

— M 36 Through the round of many births without reward, without rest, seeking the house builder. Painful is birth again and again. House builder, you're seen! You will not build a house again. All your rafters broken, the ridge pole destroyed, gone to the Unformed, the mind has attained the end of Craving.

— Dhp 153-54

Source

www.accesstoinsight.org