The Ultimate Dimension: Foundations of (Buddhist) Reality


Toward the end of Living Buddha, Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hanh speaks about the Ultimate Dimension, which can be defined as nirvana. Before that, he talks about the five skandhas, or, the five aggregates which shape reality. I had some ideas about nirvana from previous readings and lectures, but the five skandhas are new things for me to realize. Reading about the two views, ultimate dimensions and skandhas, in succession led me to this composition:

These five skandhas:
Body – form; stores of ‘self’ and ‘ego’
Feelings – biochemical, physiological and reactionary patterns of energy formations
Perceptions – mental constructs, informed by environment, e.g., culture, society, conditioning, habit
States of mind – house particular ranges of perceptions and feelings
Consciousness – irreducible stage upon which the body and concept of ‘I’ is built, comparable to such cosmic conceptions as dark matter and akashic field


In discourse, we are reminded that these five skandhas are sunyata: they are empty, impermanent and void of 'self'. We must realize and transcend the truth of emptiness and impermanence to prepare the conditions for nirvana to manifest itself; we must reach the cessation of all notions. As all our notions, ideas, concepts fall away we begin to live in the ultimate dimension.
Embodying the ultimate dimension
Embrace the interconnectedness of everything
And nothingness
All existing simultaneously in oneness
In sunyata
The light of the Dharma illuminates our consciousness so we may distinguish the skandhas. Realizing this truth, we see the house-builder and realize she is us and we, he, perpetually.

Can we see in this way at all times?


Post Script:
On Feelings, Perceptions, and States of Mind: These three aspects of the skandhas facilitate the process of ego-building, the ego where [your name] lives. Some call this self the "homunculus".
Whether we should or should not assuage negative patterns of behavior and cultivate positive ones, nobody knows, nobody can know. Nevertheless, some important questions to ask: are these useful behaviors and states of mind? Do our actions bring peace and allow us to live in harmony and mutual accord without taxing fellow sentient beings, our brothers and sisters, and without permanent disturbance in the stability of our environment and of the natural world?
As subscribers to the Buddhadharma, as bodhisattvas and arhats, we harness the light of the Dharma and naturally shine that light into the world: cut through delusion: dispel ignorance. With mindfulness, we sustain the light.
As we cling to self and remain reactive, samsara becomes stronger and eclipses reality; as we let go and practice compassion and metta, we allow nirvana to manifest, we become fearless and walk the path of the deathless.

2 comments:

gene said...

Good stuff man. I have so many samsaras. I try to observe and name them. They fascinate me, because I realize that all together, they are what I used to think was "me". Now I know they're not me, but knowing doesn't stop them. If you know you're drunk, you don't stop being drunk. Gotta keep sitting.

thanks!

Raymo.E-J said...

"If you know you're drunk, you don't stop being drunk."

Exactly! (well, as close a possible)