We need to be careful when it comes to the meaning of ‘seeing’. We need to remember that attending to the words of the Buddha - of the awakened-ones, and affirming them or, agreeing with them, does not mean we see anything - of real consequence.
‘Seeing’ the Dhamma is not the same as knowing the Dhamma. Seeing, is immediate and, ‘knowing’ is a matter of time. It involves re-membering, ruminating, discriminating, comparing, measuring etc. We all know the difference between seeing something and having it described to us. Description takes time and it can be faulty or incomplete - we can misunderstand what is being said.
Seeing can also be faulty but it is immediate - more direct. This is why it is used in a figurative sense in the teachings - (in-sight), knowledge and vision etc. Seeing involves recognition, discrimination - like the perception of (figure and ground) - but we don’t have to actively think about what we see - unless we encounter something strange and/or unfamiliar.
“Magnificent, Master Gotama! … Just [as if] … he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms … in the same way has Master Gotama … made the Dhamma clear.” - Lokayatika Sutta
When we wake up after sleep a process takes place that we may not notice. We may not be directly and clearly aware of it happening. We take it for granted and, it simply escapes our attention.
In most cases, after waking there arises the notion: here I am - the sense of self is reborn. With deep and clear mindfulness it is possible to be present - to have presence of mind - before this happens. There is awareness - mindfulness is established - before the sense of self makes its appearance.
A similar process happens after Jhana - there is a return to the normal waking state, but before that happens there is this I-making event. When mindfulness is well-established it enables a deeper insight into not-self - that goes beyond abstraction. It may sound peculiar but, with an unbroken continuity of practice over many days something very different may take place i.e. the sense of self does not arise - at all.
Awareness is then effortlessly clear as there is no restless discursive thinking. It is completely replaced with a deep abiding in the present unfolding of events. There is no resistance to, or being caught up in, whatever is taking place - a reaction-free attention. Unprecedented insights and happenings in the body and the mind may take place as the Dhamma begins to unfold on a deeper level of practice.
When we say it is important to ‘completely’ see the nature of dukkha in order to appreciate the need for Nibbana (extinction), this involves more than what we can think about. Any action that emerges from a descriptive or abstract level of understanding will not liberate. It may provide a cautionary alarm-system that we have internalised and we make use of - or ignore. It is a goal-directed process that is meant to produce some kind of desired result where we ‘believe’ all our troubles and difficulties will be resolved. I am not criticising ‘just looking’. There may be more to the Buddha-Dhamma than going somewhere else - to who knows where?
There is a paradox here, and it is impossible to resolve it on a superficial level - we cannot ‘nut it out’. At some point there is a shift in awareness that makes all the difference.
The living-Dhamma - that cannot be spoken, heard or, read about - is true-beauty and freedom. Realisation is always beautiful because it is liberating. When we carry a burden it can be very tiresome and troublesome. Moving in the stream of the Dhamma is not like this! By giving up on desire we begin to taste freedom. Giving up just means letting-go, not holding onto - it does not mean throwing away.
We don’t need to relinquish or throw-away anything that serves a useful purpose - like a viable life-sustaining environment with clean air and water. A living planet with tolerable weather conditions and a reasonable climate where we can practice loving kindness and compassion, be creative and apply our intelligence, practice right livelihood etc. To throw all that away in the name of false-renunciation or indifference makes no sense at all. However, we are in danger of losing this - if we are not care-full. This is a wonderful place for practice - we have not found a place like it anywhere else.
Its best that we recognise our good-fortune and do what we can to look after the Earth as a precious and sacred gift. Instead of treating it with casual indifference as if it was just another ‘thing’ that is obstructing our progress. A distraction of little importance that we need to ignore while we are on the path to something greater - the beyond - or some other ‘imagined’ destination. We are all nobodies going nowhere!
The samsara we see and understand ‘clearly’ which ceases through liberating insight is ‘dependent arising’ - ignorance and its consequences. This discovery takes place through close attention to our inner-life and how this finds expression in the ‘worlds’ in which we find ourselves.
The Buddha lived on this Earth and shared his teachings here - the same place we now receive them. Why would we not look after a place where Buddha’s arise? Do you know of another place where we find them?
Through the blessings of the triple-gem we only ‘lose suffering’ - which is pure joy, happiness, tranquility, incredible ease, a lack of tension and stress, ultimately (signless release). We are freed from the eight worldly concerns and this enables the expression of sublime emotions. We feel warmth and compassion for all sentient beings - a centre-less love that spreads out everywhere - with no edge (unconditional). No one is unworthy and no one is excluded from the care and compassion of an awakened being.
As the Dhamma unfolds our whole orientation to life changes. Everything begins to unravel in the simplicity of being present - without motive. The whole complex of driven-existence is abandoned until there is nothing left to grasp at - to take possession. Everything is teaching us if we give appropriate and care-full attention.
We live in a place where bad things happen but that does not mean we should treat it with contempt - like a waste dump, or just take what we can and forget about what happens next etc. The same principles apply to individuals and groups.
Wherever we find ourselves it is good to follow a few guidelines: 1) if we make a mess we should clean it up, 2) its good to share; 3) don’t waste things; 4) be kind to strangers and: 5) try to be helpful. I believe the Buddha would have endorsed these guidelines as they are required for making a better world - a sustainable future.