The Aspect of No-Change

Thanks, @UpasakaMalavaro,

There is also MN72 in which it is said: “The Tathagata is liberated from reckoning in terms of material
form, Vaccha, he is profound, immeasurable, unfathomable like the ocean” (translation Bodhi)

The same is said for the other khandha’s.

One cannot, as it were, identify the Tathagata as being (one of) the khandha’s and vice versa.
But it also makes no sense to talk about a Tathagata when this word does not refer to anything. The Tathatgata is refered to as: " profound, immeasurable, unfathomable like the ocean" Why?

Again, the message of the Buddha in many sutta’s is clearly that we are not the five khandha’s too, but by keeping seeing at that way, we continue rebirth and suffering. We have to find and see the truth we are not the five khandha’s.

If this truth was not present and cannot be discovered the Dhamma is just a kind of elegant way to make a definite end to ones life. I will never belief this is why a Buddha arises in the world. He arises to awaken us to the truth. The Truth will liberate us. The Truth that we are not rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara and vinnana, but…profound, immeasurable, unfathomable like the ocean"…

That’s what i want to belief in, and not in a Dhamma in which one goes out like a flame. I find that negative. How can going out like a flame even be the ultimate goal of a holy life? Holy? What is holy about it?

Why? Dependend origination means, for example, that a fire does not arise when conditions are not met/fulfilled. It means that moment a fire does not arise and exist. And if there is wood, a spark, oxigen etc, a fire starts and exist.

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In general I follow this sort of interpretation of Dependent Origination.


Oke, but why is the whole notion of existence or non existence (or both or neither) undermined by the concept of dependent origination?

I can’t say it any better than Ajahn Brahm says in section 5.2 of the booklet that I linked to. But I guess it depends on your definition of existence. What’s your definition?

For a bit of fun, what do you think of - Trigger’s Broom?

Hi @stu ,

I have read section 5.2. Yes, most of it makes sense to me. I have still some problems with the idea the Buddha taught we are only fleeting processes, and there is nothing stable about us. I belief the Buddha taught we are only fleeting processen in as much we identify with them and see and experience them as Me and mine. What we become is where we grasp at.

I belief the Buddha speeks also about the situation in which there is no more Me and mine-making. As a situation where mind is unattached and without limits (In AN10.81 for example).

I still are open for the idea this is the one stable, Nibbana, the unconditioned. But if this would not be a part of what we are, how can it be a refuge? Is this really not present now?

You might find this little thread useful?

I cannot comment on translation issues. I am not knowledgable.

Regarding life is suffering, i think the Buddha’s view is very complete, total. Many sutta’s teach that the Buddha’s knowledge about things of life is very complete, because he sees and knows all the aspects of things immediately: the arising, the ceasing, the gratification aspect, the danger and the escape from it. So he sees things from all sides as it were. He sees and knows all aspects.
If i see nice buttock i see only one aspect :kissing_closed_eyes:

A nice simile is that of a fish that sees bait. It does not see all sides of it but only the attractive aspect, the gratification he might feel by eating that bait. He does not see the hidden danger, the hidden suffering. So the poor fish bites…

Not seeing and knowing all these aspect of things in the world is another way to refer to delusion.

I think this is a much nicer way to talk about Buddha’s relation to the world. He surely was aware, ofcourse, of the attractive aspects of life, the gratification there is in life. He says that if this would not exist beings would not become attached. Ofcourse there is the aspect of gratification too. But that is only one aspect of the perceived.

This theme is still in mind.

I think a purified mind is like a mirror. It just reflects sense-objects without Me and mine-making. There is no grasping, only reflecting.

I belief, me and mine making is not always present, also not for the wordling. Like tanha and avijja is also not always present in the mind. It is not that an uninstructed wordling is always deluded and avijja and tanha are always present, at any time. Do you agree on this?

I think this knowing or just reflecting aspect does not change in any phase. It stays the same.
It is for the wordling the same as for the sotapanna and for the arahant and Buddha. I now belief this knowing aspect of the mind is the aspect of no-change. One can abandon greed, hate and ignorance but the ‘one who knows’, the knowing, does not change.

One can change in habits, in disposition, in perception, in body, in views, in reactions but this knowing quality does not change and i think that’s why one keeps having a perception of no-change.

According to the Mūlapariyāyasutta (MN 1), the worldling has no experience without self-appropriation.

This is essentially the Upanishadic view of Brahman. In EBTs, ‘knowing’ is not reified: it is something that arises from the circumstances, and that too ceases altogether in parinibbāna.

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Hi @prabhath

I do not think that is being said. What is being said is that after the moment of perceiving (earth as earth, etc) the anusaya become active. That is what happens when those are not uprooted.
But there is a moment one perceives earth as earth etc.

Well, i think there seems to be a tendency to call any ideas, any interpretation, any reference to something stable a Hindu -teaching, as if the Budddha did not find and taught anything stable. But is that true? If there is no escape from the conditioned, no escape from the unstable…what are you doing then? Why a Path, why learn, why develop, why? To go out like a flame…??

I do not belief this is buddha-dhamma and i read the same texts as you do.
I also cannot accept that the goal of the holy life is to go out like a flame. The goal of the holy life is to see, in a direct manner, one has never ever been the khandha’s. Only defilements let one belief this. Unless we see this truth directly there will be rebirth. Goal of the holy life is to finally see who really are, our true face, and in finding that truth we find peace in our heart, peace in living and dying. That is my heartfelt wish.

By the way, a theravada thai forest master teaches that the knowing essence of the citta does not die.
Was he secretely a Hindu?

There is a fundamental difference, even at the very first stage of cognition, between the worldling’s ‘perceiving’ (sañjānāti) and the ‘directly knowing’ (abhijānāti) of the noble disciple. The perception of the worldling is mired in ignorance; the self-appropriation is not something that happens after an initial stage of actually seeing things as they are.

Yes, but the fire that goes out is not a true self that really existed, but the mistaken notion that there is a self that persists.

I’m not familiar with the idiosyncratic teachings of Thai forest masters or the nuances of their expressions, so am not the best person to judge their views. I personally don’t have much interest in what they taught tbh, though I find a great deal of inspiration in their commitment to practice.

I accept that we could read the same texts and come to different conclusions :slight_smile:

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Can you explain a little bit more?

What i have learned is that only the cognition of an arahant is definitely and completely free of ignorance and tanha. That is uprooted. There is no more Me and mine-making of whatever is felt, heard, seen, known etc.

A sotapanna does have a right understanding, in view (ditthi) but this does not mean that there is no more Me and mine-making of what is seen heard, sensed, felt etc. The cognition of a sotapanna is not free yet of ignorance and tanha. If a sotapanna (or not arahant), for example, experiences pain, it is for him/her troublesome, an affliction (SN22.89). This is because asmi mani is not uprooted. The cognitive proces gets still defiled. He/she still has perception (not a view) that this pain is mine. Me feeling the pain.

I have learned that any cognition, meaning citta vitthi’s, starts the same way, for noble persons and worldlings, just as a vipaka vinnana, which might be a memory coming to mind, a smell, a sound etc. Then the mind’s tendencies take over. This is personal.

Flame-talk :grinning:
I like to share some thoughts.

My wish is not to go out like a flame. For me, uprooting ignorance and tanha means that one does not live in a re-active mode anymore in the world. The re-active forces inside are silenced. By living not in a reactive mode anymore, i.e. not governed by the habitual forces inside, one does not alienate anymore from oneself. That is your richness, inner wealth, freedom.

Governed by internal forces, one is also not really wise and loving and compassionate. I have seen this truth for myself by observing my behaviour in such circumstances. Even when I was caring, if it is just like a habit, it does not feel oke, it feels artificial, fake. I do not belief real compassion, real love, real wisdom can be a habit. It is impossible to possess it. It is the natural quality of an detached freed heart.
A heart which owns nothing.

For me the real chellange is to let go. To be open. Not being a buddhist. Not being this or that. Not owning anything. The moment one starts to belief one owns love, compassion, wisdom, one only becomes a dullard. Full of pride and blown up ego. No, the love, compassion, wisdom is not in owning but in not owning anything. Then there is the room for love, wisdom, compassion to manifest, in a open and empty mind. Then one is a true vehicle for the unborn Dhamma.

All reactiveness is not really you, it does not come from your heart, from you, but from what is not you…disposition. If something comes really from you, than it is not mired in avijja and tanha. Then you also do not have to worry that your behaviour is not appropriate, loving, compassionate because it is.
But real love, wisdom, compassion, cannot be a habit. We all have a kind of intelligence to see what is artificial or not. And when we sense that someone is compassionate in some habitual way we will sense this is not real quality, not really true, artifical.

Maybe you find this all nonsense or childish but for me this is the living Budddha in everybody. The Buddha in us wants to come forward. And that is nothing else than you who wants to come forward.
The Buddha is living inside us, no doubt about that. Sharing the Buddha with the world, for me, is the goal of the holy life.

It comes down to the wish of being oneself in all circumstances guided by a sense of what is authentic you and what is artificial you and seeing and knowing that quality is not in an artificial you.

How is one oneself? When one does not own and take possession of anything. If i meet you as a Buddhist, i push aside the Buddha inside me. If i come to you with no ideas in my possession, no wisdom, no identity, no love, no views, no attitude, we meet as Buddha’s from heart to heart.

That, we fear the most…being naked in the world, detached, being without attitude, not being this or that. Identity is for us like a protection and being without identity feels so naked, helpless. But a Buddha is naked, totally naked. Oke, oke, my Buddha is :grinning:

I’m not sure how this makes any practical difference? Once one has reached that non reactive mode, one surely will be in a much better position to assess if the flame, (now starved of fuel :wink: ) is going to go out.

Hi @stu,

I do not really see in my heart a wish to escape a beginningless and endless samsara in which i have been mostly in lower realms suffering a lot. For me this feels yet alien. Apparantly it was not for the Buddha and not for many buddhist, but i cannot find this drive in my heart. Because it is not there, it does not feel as my own wish, my own motivation, my own drive. It does not feel authentic but as a borrowed drive, someone else’s drive. If i would pretend that this really motivates me from my heart, this feels untruthful for me. Not sincere.

In my heart there is really only the wish for goodness. Goodness is special. Holy. For me. That can be in all kind of acts. Acts of goodness, really non-egocentric deeds. All that aiming at rewards, i do not belief in it. That does not come straight from the heart and is no real goodness. It is not noble yet.
Real goodness is also noble. The noble life is for me a life of goodness.

Oke, call me an idealist, but for me this is sure. I can feel that a life as a spiritual businessman, strategic, aiming at rewards in the future, that is not really how i want to live and is not noble.

It does not feel right for me to think, speak and act as a spirituele businessman, doing socalled good while i am only acting as a strategic person. For me it is clear the Buddha also taught it will not end suffering. It will not bring one home. That is because it does not really come from the heart. The heart itself is not ego-centric.

I do not really belief that the Buddha taught that one needs to go out like a flame. No, one has to get home that is his message. Nibbana is like being home. And samsara is a way of living in which we are lost and not at home yet. We are lost in arising emotions, ideas, tendencies, lost in our heads. Alienated from our heart, alienated from ourselves, from goodness.

This way i can relate to buddha-dhamma.

hi @Green

i’ve been reading your comments and questions and thought i’d offer something.

the first observation i’d make is that the buddha’s dhamma is only for the purpose of ending suffering. that is the goal of the holy life in his teaching.

apart from that, questions of who was i in the past, what am i now, who will i be in the future are all inappropriate attention for that goal:

MN 2: Sutta on All the Taints

the buddha’s teaching has no purpose for someone who doesn’t see the truth of suffering. pain, yes, is certainly easy to see as suffering, but it is harder to see the suffering associated with pleasure. for someone who doesn’t see a need to end their suffering, then the buddha’s teaching has no meaning.

from your writing i get the feeling that you don’t want particularly want to end samsara. that is absolutely fine - there are beings who generally have good karma and spend a lot of lifetimes in the heavens, so have difficulty seeing the value of exiting samsara. it may be that you are this sort of person.

rather, i get the feeling that you want to experience heightened sense of mental quality - real love and compassion, mental states of pure perception. your comment about the permanent part of you that sees things is very similar to the notion of the “knower” that was popularised by one of the thai forest ajahns. this sort of knower might be akin to a formless states of constant perception.

all of this is playing with jhana - in particular, the formless jhanas. these are mental states the buddha taught (and learned from other vedic teachers at the time). they’re not permanent, and they don’t in themselves, lead to the end of suffering. but they lead to lifetimes in the form and formless heavens.

you may wish to learn jhana as the buddha taught it. the only caution i’d make to you is that these states can lead one with inclinations that your mind seems to have, away from the goal of ending suffering. i guess it would be important for you to be clear about why you want to practice buddhism (versus say vedic concentration techniques).

apologies if i have read your comments wrong - please disregard if that is the case.

best wishes :slight_smile:


Thanks @IndyJ for your committment. Yes, i agree with you that the goal of the Buddha-Dhamma is ending rebirth. For me this is not other than ending birth in this life.

What is birth in this life? That is gettting involved in emotions and logings and developing a mentallity. A mentallity of an animal, peta, deva, Brahma, hell-being, asura. In this body these mentallities we develop, they arise in our minds by grapsing. This mental birth takes place in this live.

I know for sure this is self-alienation. This is not who you really are.
Ofcourse there is a relationship between the mentalllity that often arises in this life and the life to come. That is what the Buddha saw during awakening . If one, for example, practices the mentallity of an animal one will be born an animal. (MN57). So there is a relation between what we feed in this live and the next live. Between birth in this live and rebirth.

All these mentallities can be felt as a kind of self-alienation. The heart knows this. It knows because they are temporary, so how can this be you? The heart knows one is not the mentallity. One can become like an animal, sure, but one is not an animal. One can become like a de va but one is not a deva. One can be become like a peta but one is not a peta. etc. But in this life we can know these states just like we can know how it is to live as a arupa deva in arupa jhana et.c

The detached mind is just the mind which has not given rise to an attitude or mentallity yet. It has not taken birth yet because it has not grasped thoughts, emotions, longings etc.
It is not sophisticated, no jhana, not artificial, not a heightened mind, but very very sober and we experience it all the time.

I like to see it as home. Vimutti means one is home. A Buddha is at home all the time and that is why he knows ‘rebirth has ended’.

Hi @Green,

Thanks for your reply. Something of what you said reminded me of this talk by ajahn chah:

There are questions about the translation of that talk, so best to consider that in light of the accompanying discussion:

The detached mind is just the mind which has not given rise to an attitude or mentality yet. It has not taken birth yet because it has not grasped thoughts, emotions, longings etc. It is not sophisticated, no jhana, not artificial, not a heightened mind, but very very sober and we experience it all the time.

i’m not sure if you’re talking about mundane calm and mindfulness here, or something more.

either way, i suspect if you continue to practice seeing all things (aggregates, sense bases, sense objects, contact, craving, the elements) as impermanent, your mind will come to a point where it sees that this view of ‘i’ is false as well.

i don’t know if any of that helps but it’s been interesting reading your comments.

best wishes.

Hi @IndyJ ,

I think one of the best sutta’s on identity and how this plays a role in attachment and burdening is SN22.89.
SN 22.89: Khemakasutta—Bhikkhu Sujato (

It also refers to what you say about keep contemplating the impermanence and as a result the ‘I am’ notion and longings and anusaya will also disappear.

Something practical,

Suppose you have a craving for candy at a certain moment. And that disappears some time later. Have you internally the idea you are someone else while craving was present and when it is absent?
And, is this possible? Please do not fall back on theory or a learned answer, but answer, if you will, from direct experience.

For myself i cannot say I know something about myself that is unborn, unbecome. I also cannot really understand how one would know something like this from direct knowledge. Because whatever one knows or is object of knowledge, how can one know that it does not arise or has not arisen in the past?

For me the aspect of no-change is not the same as the aspect of the unborn. The aspect of no-change refers to my own inner knowledge, inner perception, that there is something which does not change. But I do not pretend that it is unborn.

For example, during a day one is aware of all kinds of mental states. Or during jhana one tastes the progressive stilling of formations. But, from inside, there is the perception that the taster is stable and the same. It is not like you experience that the one who tastes first jhana is someone other, or something else than who tastes the fourth jhana. Or, during the day, the one who enjoys a good conversation you do not experience as someone other than the ones who leaves for home and goes to sleep.

Many things change, such as moods, emotions, thoughts, sense object such as odours, smells, visual images, tactile feelings, plan, memories, the body etc etc. But I belief, If one does not jump to some kind of theory, it cannot be denied that something stays the same. So what is this?

Yes, you can immediately jump to a conclusion and say ‘this is a delusion’ but that does not explain anything.

Is this aspect of no change caused by asmi mana or avijja? It would not surprise me if also an arahant and Buddha still experience it this way. Maybe I am wrong. What do you think?