Wake Up

Episode 3Jack Kerouac

The millstone of the pitiful forms of ignorance rolling and grinding on and on.

"Then he saw those who by a higher merit were enjoying heaven; a thirst for love ever consuming them, their merit ended with the end of life, the five signs warning them of death. Just as the blossom that decays, withering away, is robbed of all its shining tints; not all their associates, living still, through grieving, can avail to save the rest. The palaces and joyous precincts empty now, the Angels all alone and desolate, sitting or asleep upon the dusty earth, weep bitterly in recollection of their loves. Deceived, alas! no single place exempt, in every birth incessant pain!

"Heaven, hell, or earth, the sea of birth and death revolving thus—an ever-whirling wheel—all flesh immersed within its waves cast here and there without reliance! Thus with his Mind eyes he thoughtfully considered the five domains of life and the degradation of all creatures that are born. He saw that all was empty and vain alike! with no dependence! like the plantain or the bubble."

The groundmist of three A.M. arose with all the colors of the world. "On the third eventful watch he entered on the deep, true apprehension. He meditated on the entire world of creatures, whirling in life's tangle, born to sorrow: the crowds who live, grow old, and die, immeasurable for multitude. Covetous, lustful, ignorant, darkly-fettered, with no way known for final rescue."

O what was the cause of all this death of bodies? "Rightly considering, inwardly he reflected from what source birth and death proceed."

Birth of bodies is the direct cause of death of bodies. Just as, implantation of its seed was the cause of the cast off rose.

"Then looking further, Where does birth come from? he saw it came from life-deeds done elsewhere; then scanning those deeds, he saw they were not framed by a creator, nor self caused, nor personal existences nor were they either uncaused; he saw they themselves obtained along a further chain of causes, cause upon cause, concatenative links joining the fetters binding all that is form—poor form, mere dust and pain.

Then, as one who breaks the first bamboo joint finds all the rest easy to separate, having discerned the cause of death as birth, and the cause of birth as deeds, he gradually came to see the truth; death comes from birth, birth comes from deeds, deeds come from attachment, attachment comes from desire, desire comes from perception, perception comes from sensation, sensation comes from the six sense organs, the six sense organs come from individuality, individuality comes from consciousness. Deeds come from attachment, deeds are done for a reason of imagined need to which a being has become attached and in the name of which he's made his move; attachment comes from desire, the desire comes before the habit; desire comes from perception, you never desired something you didn't know about, and when you did, it was a perception of either pleasure which you desired, or pain which you loathed with aversion, both being two sides of the coin named desire; perception came from sensation, the sensation of a burning finger is not perceived at once; sensation came because of the contact of the six sense organs (eye-seeing, ear-hearing, nose-smelling, tongue-tasting, body-feeling, and brain-thinking) with their mutual objects of sense, as, no finger is burned that has never contacted the flame; six sense organs come because of individuality, just as the germ grows to the stem and leaf, individuality growing its own six-fold division of what was originally neither One nor Six but Pure Mind, mirror-clear; individuality comes because of consciousness, consciousness like the seed that germinates and brings forth its individual leaf, and if not consciousness then where is the leaf?; consciousness in turn, proceeds from individuality, the two are intervolved leaving no remnant; by some concurrent cause consciousness engenders individuality, while by some other cause concurrent, individuality engenders consciousness. Just as a man and ship advance together, the water and the land mutually involved; thus consciousness brings forth individuality; individuality produces the roots. The roots engender contact of the six sense organs; contact again brings forth sensation; sensation brings forth desire (or aversion); desire or aversion produce attachment to either desire or aversion; this attachment is the cause of deeds; and deeds again engender birth; birth again produces death; so does this one incessant round cause the existence of all living things.

And beyond this, instantly viewing and completing the Twelve Links in the Chain of Existence (the Nirdana Chain), he saw that this consciousness which brings forth individuality together with all this trouble, itself comes from Karma (leftover unfinished action of the dream), and Karma comes from Ignorance, and Ignorance comes from Mind. Karma is the impersonation of the inexorable, inflexible law that bound together act and result, this life and the next; Karma explains everything that concerns the world of living beings, animals, men, the power of kings, the physical beauty of women, the splendid tail of peacocks, the moral dispositions of everyone; Karma is a sentient being's inheritance, the womb which bears him or it, the womb to which he or it must resort; Karma is the root of morality, for, what we have been makes us what we are now. If a man becomes enlightened, stops, and realizes highest perfect wisdom and enters Nirvana, it is because his Karma had worked itself out and it was in his Karma to do so; if a man goes on in ignorance, angry, foolish, and greedy, it is because his Karma had not yet worked itself out and it was in his Karma to do so.

Detail of scenes from former lives of Shakyamuni Buddha, Tibet, sixteenth century, gouache on cotton

Rightly illumined, thoroughly perceiving, firmly established, thus was he enlightened.

Destroy birth, thus death will cease; destroy deeds then will birth cease; destroy attachment then will deeds cease; destroy desire then will attachment end; destroy perception then will desire end; destroy sensation then ends perception; destroy contact of the six sense organs then ends sensation; the six entrances of the sense organs all destroyed, from this, moreover, individuality and the picking out of different related notions will cease. Consciousness destroyed, individuality will cease; individuality destroyed, then consciousness perishes; consciousness ended, the dream-energy of Karma has no hold and handle; Karma done, ignorance of dreaming ends; ignorance destroyed, then the constituents of individual life will die: the Great Rishi was thus perfected in wisdom.

Here is the list of the Nirdana Chain Links:

1. Ignorance
2. Karma
3. Consciousness
4. Individuality
5. Six contact organs
6. Sensation
7. Perception
8. Desire
9. Attachment
10. Deeds
11. Birth
12. Death

Insight arose, ignorance was dispelled; darkness was done away and light dawned. Thus sat the Buddha of our present world, strenuous, aglow, and master of himself, singing this song in his heart:

Many a house of life has held me
Long have I struggled to find him
Who made these sorrowful prisons of the senses!
But now, you builder of this tabernacle—You!
I know thee! Never shall you build again
These walls of pain, nor raise the roof-tree
Of deceits, nor lay fresh rafters on the clay;
Broken your house is! and the ridgepole split!
Delusion fashioned it! Ignorance is your name!
Safe I pass now, deliverance to obtain.

In him, thus freed, arose knowledge and freedom, and he knew that rebirth was at an end, and that the goal had been reached.

And for the benefit of the world he now devised the way, based on the Four Noble Truths.

The Four Noble Truths

1. All life is suffering. . . (all existence is in a state of misery, impermanency and unreality.)
2. The cause of suffering is ignorant craving.
3. The suppression of suffering can be achieved.
4. The way is the noble eightfold path.

And the Noble Eightfold Path is as follows:

The Noble Eightfold Path

1. Right Ideas, based on these Four Noble Truths
2. Right Resolution to follow this Way out of the suffering
3. Right Speech, tender sorrowful discourse with the brothers and sisters of the world
4. Right Behavior, gentle, helpful, chaste conduct everywhere
5. Right Means of Livelihood, harmless foodgathering is your living
6. Right Effort, rousing oneself with energy and zeal to this Holy Way
7. Right Mindfulness, keeping in mind the dangers of the other way (of the world)
8. Right Meditation, practicing Solitary meditation and prayer to attain holy ecstasy and spiritual graces for the sake of the enlightenment of all sentient beings (practising Dhyana to attain Samadhi and Samapatti.)

"When this knowledge had arisen within me, my heart and mind were freed from the drug of lust, from the drug of rebirth, from the drug of ignorance."

Thus did he complete the end of "self," as fire goes out for want of grass, thus he had done what he would have men do; he had found the way of perfect knowledge. And he knew as he sat there lustrous with all wisdom, perfect in gifts, that the way of perfect knowledge had been handed down to him from Buddhas Innumerable of Old that had come before in all ten directions of all ten quarters of the universe where he now saw them in a mighty vision assembled in brightness and power sitting on their intrinsic thrones in the Glorious Lotus Blossoms everywhere throughout phenomena and space and forever giving response to the needs of all sentient life in all the kingdoms of existence, past, present, and future.

With the discernment of the grand truths and their realization in life the Rishi became enlightened; he thus attained Sambodhi (Perfect Wisdom) and became a Buddha. Rightly has Sambodhi been called, it can be accomplished only by self help without the extraneous aid of a teacher or a god. As the poet says,

"Save his own soul's light overhead None leads man, none ever led."

The morning sunbeams brightened with the dawn, the dust-like mist dispersing, disappeared. The moon and stars paled their faint light, the barriers of the night were all removed. He had finished this the first great lesson and the final lesson and the lesson of old; entering the great Rishi's house of Dreamless Sleep, fixed in holy trance, he had reached the source of exhaustless truth, the happiness that never ends and that had no beginning but was always already there within the True Mind.

Not by anxious use of outward means, had Buddha unveiled the True Mind and ended suffering, but by resting quietly in thoughtful silence. This is the supreme fact of blessed rest.

He was sihibhuto, cooled.


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