The Island: An Anthology of the Buddha’s Teachings on Nibbana
By Ajahn Pasanno and Ajahn Amaro
Chapter Nine, The Unconditioned and Non-Locality, pages 155-163
Sections to be read out loud:
9.2, 9.3, 9.4, 9.10
“…All the factors of the mental realm are ‘unlocated’; that is to say, the concepts of place and space do not in any true sense apply there.” (Ajahn Passano and Ajahn Amaro p. 155)
This month we can observe the pervasive habit of projecting a center onto experience, fabricating a location for a sense of being. Like many assumptions, this projection happens habitually until our mind is encouraged to pay attention and realize other ways of being. Unless pointed out, it is unlikely that the mind would recognize the limitations of constantly fabricating the sense of location, of being ‘here’. Is it possible to recognize mind’s unnecessary dependence on this sense of location?
In 9.4 the Buddha says, “One who is dependent has wavering. One who has no wavering is independent.” Independent of what? Independent of fixed fabrications. If only a conceptual level, it makes sense that it would be stressful for the mind to use a sense of fixed location to help establish the appearance of a fixed self in a world that is characterized by radical change. In a flowing world, the most peaceful state is a non opposition to the flow that arises when the mind realizes that there is no need for standpoints because there is no thing, no self outside of flow. Our practice reveals all the subtle ways that the mind denies and resists the underlying nature of flow (anicca) and how liberating it is to enter the stream.
Ajahn Passano and Ajahn Amaro end the chapter with these concluding words. “In sum, the mind cannot be said to be truly anywhere. Furthermore, material things, ultimately, cannot be said to be anywhere either. “There is no ‘there’ there,” as Gertrude Stein famously put it. The world of our perceptions is a realm of convenient fictions – there is nothing solid or separate to be found in either the domain of subject or that of the object, whether it be an act of cognition, an emotion, the song of a bird or this book that you hold in your hands. However, even though all attributes of subject and object might be unlocated and thus ungraspable, with wisdom they can be truly known.” p. 163.