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11026Aimlessness of Thich Nhat Hanh

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  • Sandeep
    Oct 1, 2003
      A dialogue elsewhere on "aimlessness" proposed by  Thich Nhat Hanh, may hold some interest
      Hi T,

      This is an interesting post.

      Some few Iraqi dinars in between...........



              One subject I would like to discuss is the many different Ways there
        are - actually, there is a different Way for each individual.
              In this piece, Thich Nhat Hanh discusses the Way of
        aimlessness.  This is very different from, for example, the Fourth Way
        ideas of Gurdjieff, who saw "aimlessness" as purely mechanical, and one of
        the first things to overcome.  The 'aim' that Gurdjieff emphasized was
        essentially becoming a real person, an integrated self as opposed to the
        mob of different selves anyone might be, and he was perfectly right in his
        own context, just as TNH is perfectly right in his.

        To see "aimlessness" as purely mechanical, is to assume that "aim-full" is any different, is it not?

      Is any aim, apart from the prevailing "mechanical conditioning", which expresses itself as a specific agenda which has that particular aim?

      Gurdjieff's emphasis (taking from what you state),....of the aim to become a real person, defined as opposite to a mob of selves,.....assumes that the self is made up of parts which somehow, through some technique, some methodology, some means, some practice,.......can be integrated.

      Is such the case?

      Or is there a prevailing sense of "a" conditioned self in the moment, and which changes, transforms..........moment to moment to moment, depending on the arriving impacting input from the external environ.
      To these streams of impacting inputs, the innate-prevailing-conditioning-in-the moment first creates a "take" of the input and to that self-created image of the actual input, it fashions a response.
      In the process of this "fashioning", ..........itself alters, amends, changes, re-conditions itself.

      A dynamic loop, a Yin-Yang dance... 

      Something which modern neuro-science and neuro-biologist in the West are confirming, and validating (if this is about East versus West, thingy)

      The approaches could hardly be more different.  Fourth Wayers 
      generally see the individual self as something positive, something to be 
      worked on, to create.  Buddhists generally see the self as a delusion to be 

      Again, taking your "take" on Fourth Wayers and Buddhists (the latter, not quite correct).

      Taking the self to be something which can be improved or taking the self to be a delusion to be overcome, ...in both,.......... the existential reality of the self is assumed,...... is it not?

      Otherwise, why should one ever bother to over come a delusion, if it is seen as one.

      Would you get into a frenzy to locate a stick in order to bang the shit out of a snake,....... when you know that which was actually a rope lying in a dark corner of the room, ....the shadows made it appear to be a snake?

      Is there an independent, separated, discrete individual "self" in a manifest body-mind organism, .......a "self" possessing the independent volition to think, to discern, to decide, and to act on such a decision?

      That is the lubista to be danced, is it not?

      Otherwise it's like debating and defending, ........whether it is hot or cold, ...........the waters of the mirage lake in the desert, is it not?

        Gurdjieff takes a very Western, action-oriented approach, while
        TNH takes a typically Eastern, passive approach, letting the body-mind heal
        itself, so to speak.  In my view, the emerging world culture involves
        integrating these ideas, so that individuals on different paths can respect
        each other and not be confused by their differences.


      T, today neuro-scientists like Dr Libet, Dr Churchland, Dr Illinas, Dr Demoso (may be getting the spelling wrong),....with today's advances of scanning techniques of how the brain is functioning, while it is "live-functioning",............are throwing up some very interesting truths.

      Neuro-biology is validating that the sentient organism, is just a responsive mechanism, capable of only responding to the myriad arriving impacting inputs from the environ, in the moment,.......
      ...moment to moment to moment.
      The responding as per the intrinsic conditioning factored on genetic legacy and the nuturing environ in which the organism grew up ...

      It has no volition to do anything on it's own.

       Indeed, elements of
        many different paths may be part of a typical (dare I say it?) 'New Age'
        path to the ancient wisdom which is bound up in the dna of every cell of
        every organism.  I know many disagree, and feel that people should take one
        path and stick to it.  I think metaphors fail us here.  We no longer live
        in a world where 99% of the world's population never travel further than
        ten miles from the place they are born.  We need to know different paths
        simply in order to communicate, *even here*.


      The Net has truly made the world, around the "ten miles", in fact even less.

      However, T, it's to do with the architecture of the particular manifest sentient object in question, which is essentially the prevailing conditioning-in-the-moment, "running" the object.

      There will that specific conditioning, which despite all evidence to the contrary, will continue to believe in the existence of a shadow,......... which is then assumed to be the source of all evil, all grief, all suffering ......

        ...and thus look for techniques, methods, paths, Gurus, Enlightened Masters,.............. to give him or her that solution which will enable him or her stamp the shadow out of it's infernal existence.<LOL>

      And again appropriate conditionings, enable such manifest objects to set up schools, sat-sanghs, Cyber Lists, hold discourses, to teach, to explain, to offer such stamping-out-the-infernal-shadow, dancing lessons.

      And then there is another set of conditioning, enabling such manifest objects,....... to pause and see the hilarity of it all.

      Each object, placed exactly in the moment, in that very place, situation, circumstances, where it was meant to, in that moment.

      For all are nuances, ..........making up  this Grand Play, this Grand Circus, under the noumenal Circus Top.


        Thich Nhat Hanh, "The Heart of the Teaching of the Buddha," pp152-154:

        The Third Door of Liberation is aimlessness, *aparanihita*. There is
        nothing to do, nothing to realize, no program, no agenda.

        And Mr TNH,...there is no one to even realize that very fact.

        Otherwise, it's back to the same old hoopla.

        This is the Buddhist teaching about eschatology. Does a rose have *to do* something?
        No, the purpose of a rose is *to be* a rose. Your purpose is to be yourself.

        There is no "you" to have a purpose to be "yourself".
        For you cannot become, what you already are.

         You don't have to run anywhere to become someone else. You are
        wonderful just as you are. This teaching of the Buddha allows us to enjoy
        ourselves, the blue sky, and everything that is refreshing and healing in
        the present moment.
        There is no need to put anything in front of us and run after it. We
        already have everything we are looking for, everything we want to become.
        We are already a Buddha, so why not just take the hand of another Buddha
        and practice walking meditation?


      If you are already are a Buddha, .......then whether you take the hand of another Buddha or not, whether you walk or not, whether you are engaged in cutting the throat of somebody on the street, or engaged in helping a cripple cross the street,.........your Buddhahood is neither lost nor enhanced.

      What gets done or not get done, THROUGH a manifest sentient psycho-somatic apparatus, is hardly of any import to the issue of Buddhahood.

      The manifest psycho-somatic apparatus, being wired only for survival and perpetuation, could not give two hoots for Buddhahood.

      Buddhahood has no relevance to it, holds no significance for it.

      And since the so called independent self, which is supposed to be seeking Buddhahood, through whatever means, is a notion, an inference,...........

      .......who is supposed to be "already a Buddha"?
      To whom is Buddhahood or any relevance, any significance?

      To whom is realization, enlightenment, awakening, or any of the usual bromides,... of any relevance, of any significance?


         This is the teaching of the Avatamsaka
        Sutra. Be yourself. Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your
        happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search, or
        struggle. Just be. Just being in the moment in this place is the deepest
        practice of meditation. Most people cannot believe that just walking as
        though you have nowhere to go is enough. They think that striving and
        competing are normal and necessary. Try practicing aimlessness for just
        five minutes, and you will see how happy you are during those five minutes.
      Mr TNH, "try practicing aimlessness",.........is now not the aim.? <LOL>

      Utter baloney.

      Aimlessness is a consequence of apperception that there is no independent self to have a specific independent aim.

      That the "individual" functioning through an psycho-somatic apparatus, is a nuance of the functioning of Totality.

      That, whether it is the act of scratching your nose, or actualizing your highest spiritual idea(whatever that is),........that act could not have come to occur, in the moment it did occur, ....

      .....unless the entirety of the Universe converged to enable that happening.

      Something which the Tao statement, pointed..."Pull a blade of grass and you shake the Universe".

      If every act, simple/complex, lowly/ highly, profound/profane, loving/un-loving, .......creative/ destructive,....

        ... is the act of Universality, is the functioning of phenomenality AND there being nothing apart from phenomenality, ..........what individual aim can ever have an existential reality?

        The apperception of this,.........results in the dropping of all aims, and an existing in the moment.
      Moment to moment to moment.

      Aiming for aimlessness, is an oxymoron, if there was one.


            The Heart Sutra says that there is "nothing to attain." We meditate not
        to attain enlightenment, because enlightenment is already in us. We don't
        have to search anywhere. We don't need a purpose or a goal. We don't
        practice in order to obtain some high position. In aimlessness, we see that
        we do not lack anything, that we already are what we want to become, and
        our striving just comes to a halt.

       And this cannot be achieved.

       It happens, non-volitionally and acasually.


         We are at peace in the present moment,
        just seeing the sunlight streaming through our window or hearing the sound
        of the rain. We don't have to run after anything.


      Or more correctly,...... the stationary in any running, taking place through the apparatus,.......that stillness..........is apperceived.

      The advent of apperception in a body-mind organism, may not mean the cessation of the organism.

      If the organism continues to be "alive", functioning will continue through that object.

      To an external conditioned object, it may seem that such an object is still running, still doing stuff, still trying to make a living, eat, drink, sleep, have relationship.
      In short , "running" is continuing.

      Except that,....... in such an object, there is no one to run and thus there is no one to whom a goal, any goal for the run, to be of any relevance.


         We can enjoy every
        moment. People talk about entering nirvana, but we are already there.
        Aimlessness and nirvana are one.

        *Waking up this morning, I smile.
        Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
        I vow to live fully in each moment
        and to look at all beings with the eyes of love.*

            These twenty-four hours are a precious gift, a gift we can only receive
        fully when we have opened the Third Door of Liberation, aimlessness. If we
        think we have twenty-four hours to achieve a certain purpose, today will
        become a means to attain an end. The moment of chopping wood and carrying
        water is the moment of happiness.

        Even the term "happiness", drops.

        The isness of the moment, whether it is chopping wood, carrying water, making/losing a million bucks at the Nasdaq stock market,.......is in completion,....in the moment.


         We do not need to wait for these chores
        to be done to be happy. To have happiness in this moment is the spirit of
        aimlessness. Otherwise, we will run in circles for the rest of our life. We
        have everything we need to make the present moment the happiest in our
        life, even if we have a cold or a headache. We don't have to wait until we
        get over our cold to be happy. Having a cold is a part of life.
            Someone asked me, "Aren't you worried about the state of the world?" I
        allowed myself to breathe and then I said, "What is most important is not
        to allow your anxiety about what happens in the world to fill your heart.
        If your heart is filled with anxiety, you will get sick, and you will not
        be able to help." There are wars - big and small - in many places, and that
        can cause us to lose our peace. Anxiety is the illness of our age. We worry
        about ourselves, our family, our friends, our work, and the state of the
        world. If we allow worry to fill our hearts, sooner or later we will get sick.
            Yes, there is tremendous suffering all over the world, but knowing this
        need not paralyze us. If we practice mindful breathing, mindful walking,
        mindful sitting, and working in mindfulness, we try our best to help, and
        we can have peace in our heart. Worrying does not accomplish anything. Even
        if you worry twenty times more, it will not change the situation of the
        world. In fact, your anxiety will only make things worse. Even though
        things are not as we would like,


        Things are exactly as they were to be, in any given moment.
        They could not have been an iota of difference in what things are in the moment, ...........whether it is on an individual scale,
      or on a familial scale,
      or on a communal scale,
      or on a national scale,
      or on a global scale,
      or on a galactic scale,
      or on a universal scale,.....
      ..or on a phenomenal scale.

        See how, after all that spiel on 'aimlessness",..........aim comes in by the backdoor,....... through a distinction of liking or disliking, what is, in a give moment.

        <SNIP> the rest,....... as your comments T interests more.

        There are a number of very significant ideas in this piece.

              "Aimlessness is Nirvana" is a wonderful idea.  Nirvana means
        "extinction," and in nirvana all aims are extinct.

        For the self, to whom any aim, is an "aim",.........that notion of a self, which is a consequence of a pretence,.......... that pretence, mysteriously, has ended, ........in a particular manifest object.

        The connotation of "aim" is interesting.

        It can only arise, from a feeling, from a judgment, from an assumption, that what is, in the moment, is not what it should have been, and hence the aim to...............<whatever>

        Without this unacceptance of the moment, as it is,..............no aim can arise.

        Now this very unacceptance, this set of should-have-happened/should-not-have-happened, .........the concretization of this shoulds and should-nots,...............is nothing but the notion of the individual self.

        In the gestalt of Nirvan, ..............who is left,........... to either unaccept the moment?


        Accept it either.


          Happiness is our
        normal, natural condition when all our needs are satisfied.

        The natural condition,... having no need, .....is neither satisfied nor unsatisfied.

        I am the hunger, I am the food and I am the satiation. 


        And simultaneously, I am not the hunger, not the food and not the satiation, ............in that very same moment.

          With nothing
        to strive for, no aims, we are happy.
              Another wonderful idea is that happiness is our basic responsibility
        to others.  By being happy we become a refuge for people (in Buddhist
        terms, a 'teacher' - as in, "I take refuge in the Buddha...).  We owe it to
        the world to be happy!  It is our dharma, our responsibility.  I know some
        will deride this as pop philosophy, simplistic "don't worry, be
        happy."  But it is a simple truth.

        T, in the apperception of there being no "me-self",...........can a "you-self" arise for this sentient object?

        No sage (a term used by the audience and popular media for such an object), is ever compassionate, or cognizes a responsibility to others.

        There is no "other" for the sage.

        Yes, anybody entering the milieu of such beingness, bathed in that milieu..............immediately feels benedicted, ........feels compassionated, , and there is no-one being compassionate.

        That feeling of benedicted, of being compassionated, .......is to do with the level of receptivity of the recipient, ......not the milieu.

        Which spreads, irrespective of whether anybody enters or leaves it.

        Like the moisture laden cloud, .............bursts,...........because it cannot help bursting.

        And irrespective of whether, as a consequence of the bursting,........... thirst is slackened, life renewed, ........or......... death and destruction doled out.

        Dooooo beeee Dooooobeeee Dooooooo

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