The past does not exist

Total Recall is another good movie that illustrates the complexity of the mind as a metaphor.

My favorite quote by the character Matthias:

“It is each man’s quest to find out who he truly is, but the answer to that lies in the present, not in the past. The past is a construct of the mind. It blinds us. It fools us into believing it. But the heart wants to live in the present. Look there. You will find your answer.”
 Reminds me once again that whatever is arising in my mind based on conditioning is simply a construct of the mind. There actually is no scientific proof that the past exists, yet everyone believes it.

End of Buddhism

All things that are created are subject to impermanence.  This is one of the fundamental teachings of the Buddha.  So how long will Buddhism last?  The Buddha gave different predictions at different times.  At one time he said the Golden age of Dharma would last 500 years in its pure form and another 1500 years in a shadow of its former glory.  However, when relating the story of the life of Angulimala he said it would last 1000 years, in the Essence of the Moon Sutra he said 2000 years, In the White Lotus Sutra, 1500 years and in The Sutra of the Goddess of Flawless Light, at least 2500 years.

It is thought that some of the statements may have been referring to the Dharma in India, which did die out before it was reintroduced in the last 100 years.  The Sutra of the Goddess of Flawless Light states that at 2500 years the Dharma will spread to the people with the red faces, which some interpret to mean the Americas although Tibetans have also been referred to as red faced.

Great sages throughout the ages have made predictions as well.  Vasubandhu (4th century) in his commentary of the Abhidharma Kosa claimed the Dharma would last 1000 years from the Buddhas passing.

Kamalsila (8th century) claims in his commentary to the Diamond Cutter Sutra  that the Dharma would last 2500 years. He cites a few sources including the Great Commentary to Perfection of Wisdom (which give 5000 years) to substantiate his prediction.

More recently, Choney Drakpa Shedrup (1675-1748) in the Sunlight for the Path to Freedom, (another commentary on the Diamond Cutter Sutra) gives 5000 years.  He had the benefit of knowing that the Dharma was still in the world at his time (2200 years after the death of the Buddha).  He divides the decline of Buddhism into ten 500 year periods.

The Era of Results

  • 500 BC until 0 AD – Lots of people become arhats (attain nirvana)
  • 0 to 500 AD  –  Lots of people become non-returners (don’t return to desire realm – born in the form or formless realm)
  • 500 to 1000 AD – Lots of people become stream enterers (see emptiness directly)


The Era of Practice (Trying):

  • 1000 to 1500 AD – People are training in wisdom
  • 1500 to 2000 AD – People are training in concentration
  • 2000 to 2500 AD – People are training in morality


The Era of Physical Dharma (people talk, but have no practice or attainment):

  • 2500 to 3000 AD – Books and teachings on wisdom exist
  • 3000 to 3500 AD – Books and teachings on concentration exist
  • 3500 to 4000 AD – Books and teachings on morality exist


Era of “Just A Trace” (no one understands or practices Dharma) (4000 to 4500 AD)

These predictions refer to Buddhism as taught by Gautama Buddha.  Of course, within every time period there may be pockets of higher level practice and attainment.  In addition, anyone who knows about the nature of future readings and predictions knows they are not set in stone.  At any one moment there are infinite possibilities.   Buddha may have been pessimistic in expressing his predictions in order to motivate his students.  Or his predictions may have been perfectly accurate in that moment, but motivated the students which subsequently led to changes that made his predictions obsolete.

Also, individuals can be contacted by buddhas and teachers “living” in the form and formless realms and taught directly. This may result in teachings and the practice that lead to enlightenment without being labeled “Dharma”.  In addition, there is evidence that Christian contemplatives reach nirvana and high levels of realization without what would be called “Dharma”,  although this is not widespread.

Geshe Michael Roach (199?) Asian Classics Institute Course Six, Class Four Audio & Student Class notes.


Do you know the difference between having a thought and being aware that you are having a thought?

Do you know the difference between having a feeling and being aware that you are having a feeling?

Yesterday we talked about how the self does not exist and how to personally investigate this in order to feel confident in this conclusion.  People that become obsessed with discovering the true nature of reality (which could be referred to as “knowing or seeing God”) create the causes and conditions for the direct experience of no-self or emptiness.

The direct experience of no-self or emptiness (also known as the Perfection of Wisdom) is what gives us the power to cut the fetters of limiting misbeliefs about the world and reach enlightenment.  Someone that has this insight is an arya or stream enterer.

I tend to identify more with my mind as being “myself”.  Exercises that use the mind to explore the mind are quite useful in loosening up this identification.  Anyone that spends much time watching their mind objectively will tend to not want to identify with the thinking processes of the mind.  In fact, one may conclude, “I am not my mind, it is possessed!”

The mind generates a long stream of judgements, opinions, repetitive thoughts, and the like.  When we disengage from identifying with them, these thoughts can be viewed as simple arisings and passings – much like a breeze that touches the surface of our skin.  They are not us.  They are something that seems to happen to us.

Then, what is left is identification with the observer.  It has become clear that we are not the thoughts that we think and we don’t even generate them consciously.  I was able to get to this point when I realized that I was still identifying with the part of the mind that was watching the thoughts.  “I” was the watcher, the observer, the part that says, “there is a breeze on your arm”.  It took an insight experience for me to blow that identification apart.

Slowly as you practice you will break down identification with self.  It is this dissolution of deceptive reality that leads to liberation.  The road is set before you and all you have to do is practice to reach the final goal.