In this final part of the series, we’ll be looking at the natural experience of our own being. A few things will come to light in the process. It’ll be useful if we’ve been through parts I and II sufficiently to be comfortable with the things that are spoken of there, especially the non-identity of ourselves with any of the things that we experience. If it’s accepted at the most basic level that we simply can’t be any of the “things” that we experience, including our bodies, our mental and emotional states, and any other phenomenal perceptions that might appear to us, then most of the work of understanding our true nature has been done. That last point – that the eradication of wrong ideas is most of the work – will be explained appropriately throughout the course of this post.
In the ultimate advent of pure wisdom, it is seen that the idea that I have ever come into being is absolutely false; thus the idea that I have ever gone out of being. Being is what is; in that I am, I am that. This is the truth of the matter. Direct experience alone will suffice. All intellectual understanding and theoretical knowledge will avail no-one of nothing.
Men go walking this way and that in search of many, many things – and always they find themselves unsatisfied, and crave yet more in hope of dousing the flame of greed. But there is no hope of satisfaction in the myriad things of the worlds, for all of these are passing, and are not worth their weight in water. What satisfies us today brings us pain tomorrow; what we find wealth in today taxes us tomorrow. We lust after women and find them repulsive in the morning, seek great kingdoms in our youth and then recoil from our hideous conquest. All of our activity, groping for outward things in time, yields nothing but bitter harvest: for what time yields, time takes. There is nothing of form that is not already dying. Know death and emptiness to be the truth of all things.
Many things we can learn in these worlds – the histories of things, the ways to make use of things, how to perform certain actions, how people have thought in the past and how people think in the present. Can we learn to be wise? Is the cultivation of wisdom a matter of “learning” like this? We can look to Woden’s example for clarification on this matter.
We’ve established that it’s our own self that we need to be investigating first if we’re to have a firm footing on the path of wisdom. Without knowing the truth of ourselves, we don’t have a foothold in the investigation into any of the things of the universe. It’s also been suggested that, since truth is universal and common to all things, knowing the truth of ourselves will show us the truth of all things. That remains to be seen. But the question remains: how exactly do we investigate ourselves? What does the notion of “self-investigation” entail? Who exactly are we?
What is here is always here. It’s not a question of whether truth can be gained or lost. The truth, being true, is ever present. It’s the only thing that’s ever present!
The first mark of falsity is temporality – it comes and goes. Whatever comes and goes might seem true for a while – it might appear to be fact – but ultimately, it’s as false as whatever doesn’t appear in the slightest.
The first thing for us to examine is our own selves. Why should this be so? Purely because, if we wish to be able to understand anything else aright, it would make sense to have an understanding of ourselves – the very ones who would understand.