Wednesday, June 23, 2010


“Nirvana, the Third Dharma Seal, is the ground of being, the substance of all that is. A wave does not have to die in order to become water. Water is the substance of the wave. The wave is already water. We are also like that. We carry in us the ground of interbeing, nirvana, the world of no-birth, and no-death no permanence and no impermanence, no self and no nonself. Nirvana is the complete silencing of concepts. The notions of impermanence and nonself  were offered by the Buddha as instruments of practice, not as doctrines to worship, fight, or die for.... If you know how to use the tools of impermanence and nonself to touch reality, you touch nirvana in the here and now.”
—Thich Nhat Hahn

Seeing Nirvana as the substance of all that is resembles seeing the arrow in the Fed Ex logo. It’s always been there, but until it pops out, you realize you haven’t seen it even though you may have looked straight at it countless times.

Here’s an Etheree:

Under my nose
Like animal breath
Ultimate Nirvana.
Ground beneath loving-kindness
Here, now, near, far, above, below
Everything, everywhere, everywhen—
Empty heart-center aglow in the void.

TNH's suggestion to look for impermanence and nonself everywhere and with dogged persistence is advice well worth considering.


steven said...

dan my own experience at this moment is that much like the arrow in the fed ex sign, my awareness or non-awareness of self flickers backwards and forwards. i know in my head that existence as my eyes see it is a negotiated understanding. but there are so many questions including how does one reconcile the devaluing of the interface between this world and nothingness as a source of learning and information when you know that it is where almost everything you learn begins its descent into the marianas-like depths of your being? dunno if i made that make sense or not. it's good to wrestle with the big ideas. steven

Bonnie said...

An effective way to illustrate the illusive, yet ever-present state of nirvana. It is always there, not interfering - but simply waiting for us to include it in our awareness.

Delwyn said...

Hi Dan

I enjoy your reminders to be..

I read Steven's comment and wonder if the intelligent mind attempts to convolute everything... to keep busy...

...Your post tells me it is right here now...

Happy days

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Delwyn--

Nirvana is always here, now, like the arrow in the logo, but usually we're rather too busy reading FedEx to notice it.

Thich Nhat Hahn identifies the Third Dharma Seal as Nirvana. Other Buddhist scholars identify the Third Dharma Seal as Dukkha, often translated as "suffering." (That's one reason Buddhism is often thought to be depressing.)

Both Nirvana and suffering are here, now in much the same way that the arrow is in the FedEx logo.

Whether you see mostly Nirvana or Dukkha is largely a matter of decision and skillful use of attention. They're inseparable from each other.

Dan Gurney said...


Yes, it's always there, but usually hiding pretty well, often camouflaging itself with suffering.

Dan Gurney said...

steven, if I understand what you've written, our awareness of bliss is linked to our awareness of suffering.

They have approximately the same relationship that white has to black in a BW photograph, or the relationship between sound and silence in music.