The meaning of the word Nibbana clearly extends to the absence of mental defilements the cause of Dukkha. So that at any moment that our minds are empty of ‘self’ and ‘belonging to self’ then that is Nibbana. For example, at this moment as you sit here I will attest that everyone, or almost everyone, has a mind empty of the feelings of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ because there is nothing engendering them. In listening attentively you give no opportunity for self – consciousness to arise. So look and see whether or not the mind is empty of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. If there is some emptiness (and I merely use the word some, it’s not completely or unchangingly empty) then you are dwelling within the sphere of Nibbana. Even though it is not absolute or perfect Nibbana, it is Nibbana just the same.
Dhammas are of my meanings, levels and stages. The Nibbana – dhamma lies in the minds of each one of you at the moment that you are to some degree empty of the feeling of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. So please be aware of this ego-less feeling, remember it well and keep it with you when you return to your home. Sometimes when you have arrived home it will feel like you’ve entered someone else’s house, or doing some work at home you will feel like you are helping out with someone else’s work, at someone else’s home. This sort of feeling will increase more and more and the Dukkha that uses to be associated with home and work will be no more. You will abide with a mind empty of ‘self’ and ‘belonging to self’ at all times. This is to take Nibbana or sunnata as the holy charm constantly hanging from our neck. It is a protection against every kind of suffering, danger and ill – fortune. It is the genuine holy charm of the Buddha, anything else is just a fake.
Speaking like this you will soon be accusing me of giving you a big sales pitch. Don’t think of me as someone hawking the wares of the Buddha in the marketplace, think rather that we are all companions in Dukkha, in birth, old age, sickness and death and that we are all disciples of the Lord Buddha. If anything is spoken to stimulate interest it is with good intentions. But if anyone has any truth – discerning awareness they will be able to see for themselves without having to believe me, and that seeing will more and more open the way for further study towards the ultimate truth.
An Extract from Heartwood from the Bo Tree by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. © 1985 suanmokkh.org
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