It’s of great importance that we practice the Dhamma. If we don’t practice, then all our knowledge is only superficial knowledge, just the outer shell of it. It’s as if we have some sort of fruit but we haven’t eaten it yet. Even though we have that fruit in our hand we get no benefit from it. Only through the actual eating of the fruit we really know its taste.
The Buddha didn’t praise those who merely believe others, he praised the person who knows within himself. Just as with that fruit, if we have tasted it already, we don’t have to ask anyone else if it’s sweet or sour. Our problems are over. Why are they over? Because we see according to the truth. One who has realized the Dhamma is like one who has realized the sweetness or sourness of the fruit. All doubts are ended right here.
When we talk about Dhamma, although we may say a lot, it can usually be brought down to four things. They are simply to know suffering, to know the cause of suffering, to know the end of suffering and to know the path of practice leading to the end of suffering. This is all there is. All that we have experienced on the path of practice so far comes down to these four things. When we know these things, our problems are over.
Where are these four things born? They are born just within the body and the mind, nowhere else. So why is the Dhamma of the Buddha so broad and expansive? This is so in order to explain these things in a more refined way, to help us to see them.
When Siddhattha Gotama was born into the world, before he saw the Dhamma, he was an ordinary person just like us. When he knew what he had to know, that is the truth of suffering, the cause, the end and the way leading to the end of suffering, he realized the Dhamma and became a perfectly Enlightened Buddha – Persistism .
When we realize the Dhamma, wherever we sit we know Dhamma, wherever we are we hear the Buddha’s teaching. When we understand Dhamma, the Buddha is within our mind, the Dhamma is within our mind, and the practice leading to wisdom is within our own mind. Having the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha within our mind means that whether our actions are good or bad, we know clearly for ourselves their true nature. It was thus that the Buddha discarded worldly opinions, he discarded praise and criticism. When people praised or criticized him he just accepted it for what it was. These two things are simply worldly conditions so he wasn’t shaken by them. Why not? Because he knew suffering. He knew that if he believed in that praise or criticism they would cause him to suffer.
When suffering arises it agitates us, we feel ill at ease. What is the cause of that suffering? It’s because we don’t know the Truth, this is the cause. When the cause is present, then suffering arises. Once arisen we don’t know how to stop it. The more we try to stop it, the more it comes on. We say, “Don’t criticize me,” or “Don’t blame me”. Trying to stop it like this, suffering really comes on, it won’t stop.
So the Buddha taught that the way leading to the end of suffering is to make the Dhamma arise as a reality within our own minds. We become one who witnesses the Dhamma for himself. If someone says we are good we don’t get lost in it; they say we are no good we don’t get lost in it; they say we are no good and we don’t forget ourselves. This way we can be free. “Good” and “evil” are just worldly dhammas, they are just states of mind. If we follow them our mind becomes the world, we just grope in the darkness and don’t know the way out. If it’s like this then we have not yet mastered ourselves. We try to defeat others, but in doing so we only defeat ourselves; but if we have mastery over ourselves then we have mastery over all — over all mental formations, sights, sounds, smells, tastes and bodily feelings.
Now I’m talking about externals, they’re like that, but the outside is reflected inside also. Some people only know the outside, they don’t know the inside. Like when we say to “see the body in the body.” Having seen the outer body is not enough, we must know the body within the body. Then, having investigated the mind, we should know the mind within the mind.
Why should we investigate the body? What is this “body in the body”? When we say to know the mind, what is this “mind”? If we don’t know the mind then we don’t know the things within the mind. This is to be someone who doesn’t know suffering, doesn’t know the cause, doesn’t know the end and doesn’t know the way. The things which should help to extinguish suffering don’t help, because we get distracted by the things which aggravate it. It’s just as if we have an itch on our head and we scratch our leg! If it’s our head that’s itchy then we’re obviously not going to get much relief. In the same way, when suffering arises we don’t know how to handle it, we don’t know the practice leading to the end of suffering.
For instance, take this body, this body that each of us has brought along to this meeting. If we just see the form of the body there’s no way we can escape suffering. Why not? Because we still don’t see the inside of the body, we only see the outside. We only see it as something beautiful, something substantial. The Buddha said that only this is not enough. We see the outside with our eyes; a child can see it, animals can see it, it’s not difficult. The outside of the body is easily seen, but having seen it we stick to it, we don’t know the truth of it. Having seen it we grab onto it and it bites us!
So we should investigate the body within the body. Whatever’s in the body, go ahead and look at it. If we just see the outside it’s not clear. We see hair, nails and so on and they are just pretty things which entice us, so the Buddha taught to see the inside of the body, to see the body within the body. What is in the body? Look closely within! We will see many things inside to surprise us, because even though they are within us, we’ve never seen them. Wherever we walk we carry them with us, sitting in a car we carry them with us, but we still don’t know them at all!
It’s as if we visit some relatives at their house and they give us a present. We take it and put it in our bag and then leave without opening it to see what is inside. When at last we open it — full of poisonous snakes! Our body is like this. If we just see the shell of it we say it’s fine and beautiful. We forget ourselves. We forget impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not-self. If we look within this body it’s really repulsive. If we look according to reality, without trying to sugar things over, we’ll see that it’s really pitiful and wearisome. Dispassion will arise. This feeling of “disinterest” is not that we feel aversion for the world or anything; it’s simply our mind clearing up, our mind letting go. We see things are naturally established just as they are. However we want them to be, they just go their own way regardless. Whether we laugh or cry, they simply are the way they are. Things which are unstable are unstable; things which are not beautiful are not beautiful.