The Buddhist Hour Radio Broadcast Archives

Buddhist Hour
Script No. 367
Radio Broadcast live on Hillside 88.0 FM
for Sunday 6 February 2005CE
2547 Buddhist Era


1. transcribe: to make a copy of in writing; transcription: the action or process of transcribing.
2. thwarting: to run counter to, go against, oppose, hinder.
3. perpetuating: cause to endure, continual, indefinitely, continue or extend without interuption.
4. franchise: the authorisation granted by a company to sell its products or services in a particular area.
5. relativistic: characterised by or designating circumstances in which discrepencies pertaining or based on the theory of relativity occur.
6. utter: extreme, absolute, entire, total; speak, show, make known.
7. obscuration: the action of making something obscure, dim or dark; the process of becoming obscure; a dimmed state or condition.
8. earnest: serious intention, not trifaling, zealous, ardent.
9. immortality: endless life or existence.
10. fabricate: entreet, form into the shape required; manufacture; construct something material or immaterial. invent.
11. tormenting: (torment) extreme pain or suffering; phyiscal or mental agony.
12. permutations: exhange, interchange; change of state, position, form.
13. transmutation: the action of changing the arrangement, esp. the linear order of a set of items; each of the possible different arrangements or orders which result.
14. reification: the mental conversion of a person or abstract concept into a thing. Depersonalisation of a person.

Knowing Selflessness Destroys Misknowledge

We continue now with the next part our series of transcribed Buddha Dhamma talks by John D. Hughes during a five day Bhavana course in June 1988 at the Buddhist Discussion Centre (Upwey) Ltd.

The talk is entitled 'Knowing Selflessness Destroys Misknowledge' which we began in part last week.

The authors of today's script apologise for any errors or misunderstandings that may have occurred in the process of transcribing and editing the talks from the original audio tape recording. As a matter of policy the names of students have been changed.

If you tuned into the Buddhist Hour last week you may recall the talk ended in the following way.

The infinite past is real, the infinite future is real, this tick, tick, tick, the point where you sit now, where past kamma is transformed by your ego to make future kamma, is unreal.

John D. Hughes noted that 'when there is no interruption with the past flowing into the future then you are in a much better position. Because the activity of the mis-information is such that you are so mad keen to experience the present that you'll do anything including turning an unpleasant feeling that has no nature of the fact its unpleasant, even when you pull it to yourself, it still doesn't know it is unpleasant. But then your ego, which is unreal, owns something and claims itself to be in a higher state than the feeling itself.

This is the way the ego struts and postures on stage, it says "although that unpleasant feeling has no knowledge of itself, I, clever dick that I am, know the unpleasant feeling to be unpleasant, and I experience the unpleasant.

He poses the question, “What is that mind, what is that I?”

It's an unreal fantasy mind and you prefer an unreal fantasy mind, you make that your chief, you make that your master, you become the slave of an unreal mind holding mis-information. You've always been like that, and unless something happens for countless lifetimes in the future it will be the same.

Now we'll continue with Knowing Selflessness Destroys Mis-knowledge.

And you call that me, “Poor me” you say. Well, why do you do it? Why did you make such a mind? Well the answer is you've had it forever. Forever you've been in ignorance. There wasn't a time when you were enlightened and you broke your enlightenment and somehow came to this. It’s just a habit, you've got a very bad habit.

You're guarding something with all your effort that's not worth a crumpet, or a piece of toast, or a salami sandwich, or a piece of coconut ice, or a pickled onion. It is utterly, completely, absolutely worthless. It's thwarting to your five groups and it's thwarting to other people.

Now, this is the situation. Your refuge is in that unreal ego mind. That is what you place as the highest value. However when you look at other people you see them as five groups. You refuse to see that other people have got that unreal I, my, mine, me mind. You listen to the stream of their descriptions of their torment and their pain and you just say, "I don't know what they’re bitching about. They’re well fed, they’re happy". Now you can't see other people’s situation until you get rid of that unreal mind.

And we went through yesterday a whole set of events of raising the, you know how to do. So there's a method given to you yesterday of how to do it. I'm not going to repeat yesterday. But I'm just going to make you enthusiastic hopefully.

So there is two situations; there is you with your five groups just like everyone else, there’s no different to, like, every sentient being is five groups, we're all the same in that matter except we've got the results of our wholesome kamma and unwholesome kamma makes our lives different. So, for example. if pleasant feeling come to me there's no guarantee pleasant feeling will come to you at the same time.

Just occasionally pleasant feeling comes to you, pleasant feeling comes to me and then you say "Oh, I like you, I like you". But when unpleasant feeling comes you can't see my pleasant feeling, it's like you go blind. I'm in pleasant feeling, pleasant feeling, pleasant feeling. Pleasant feeling, pleasant feeling, pleasant feeling. I don't follow you. I'm not your kamma. You are your kamma, I am mine.

How did I get like this? Well, I did the meditation you're doing now, That's how I got here. When you cease your ego mind you will be able to say statements like this. "Pleasant feeling comes, pleasant feeling goes. Unpleasant feeling comes, unpleasant feeling goes. Happiness comes, happiness goes, praise comes, praise goes, blame comes, blame goes". You will see in a non-relativistic way.

Whereas, you see what happens unpleasant feeling comes and you say "something's going wrong, yesterday I was happy. Yesterday I was happy, yesterday I was happy. Now I'm unhappy, unhappy, unhappy". Then pleasant feeling comes you say, "pleasant feeling comes, pleasant feeling comes, yesterday I was unhappy now I'm pleasant. Oh, this is great mate. Oh wow, wow, cosmic, wow, wow, wow. Then unpleasant feeling comes. "Oh this meditation, irritating, oh, wa, wa, wa, wa". Its not the meditation that's doing it, its your kamma.

And then you say, this comes, "Oh body pain, body pain, body pain" and I say "let go of your body" "Oh, I want to hang on to it". Well, if you, anything you grab at, what does the grabbing? The ego mind, which is unreal, doesn't even grab the correct reality. It won't have a bar of reality. It makes, like an unreal reflection of whatever it looks at. Because if it put a real reflection in, you can't put a real feeling into an unreal ego mind. So you're living on reflected fantasies.

In this sense it's true when the Buddha says the world's mad. See if sanity is knowing reality as it is, then what do you call people who make their life, who assert, “This is me, and it doesn't matter what you say, I'm going to have a hard time.” And I say to you, "You don't have to have a hard time.” And you say, "Oh, that's alright for you, you've done all that meditation". You fantasize. How much meditation can I do? I can only do one second, one second, one second. In normal conventional terms the present is real, the past is unreal.

All I can do is sit here driven by all the results of my wholesome and unwholesome kamma from the past. But when my unwholesome kamma comes I just say "Ah, and I'm a tricky dickey,” I say, "What to do, what to do? Oh, offer light to Buddha, that will shut me up. Oh, what will I do now, offer flower to Buddha. That will shut me up".

What do you do? "Oh. I'm unhappy, I'm unhappy. Boo hoo, poor me, poor me, poor me. What do you want me to say? There, there dear, your unhappiness will increase because you treat it as so precious, you talk about it, breathe it, live it, eat it.” What do you really like doing? Do you like having a hard time or do you like having a fun time? Which do you like doing? Well if you want to have a fun time, if that's really your goal, you keep five precepts and you practice generosity and you follow the instructions.

But if you really want to have a hard time you just go on perpetuating your unwholesome unwise dumb stupid behaviour patterns. And if you think your behaviour pattern is virtuous, well if it was virtuous you'd be the happiest people in the world. And I've met the happiest people in the world, in fact I'm the East, I'm the manufacturer of happiest people in the world. I got the East coast distributing franchise and the West coast and the North Coast and the South coast.

But if you taught other people what you know habitually, what would your teachings be? See it's no good saying life's tough and that's the way it is, that's not an answer. Life's tough but it can become sweet. Life's dukkha but it can become sukkha. That is the teaching of the Buddha. So the Buddha teaches about dukkha, unsatisfactoriness, the cause of the dukkha, the origin of the dukkha, how, what caused it and the Path leading out of the dukkha. The net result of Buddhist practice is complete and utter sukkha forever, parinibbana. Now what is it that forces you to, apparently forces you to listen to your habit kamma? It is this; that you cherish the unreal ego as your most precious possession.

Because if it vanishes what happens? Nirvana. So you sit in nirvana now. Now if you have great compassion you see outside your nirvana the Samsara. You see the beings in Samsara suffering, suffering, suffering. From nirvana view all you see is oceans, universes of suffering. If you look back into the past you will see you had oceans of suffering. And what was the cause of it? What was the cause of it? What was the cause? Well the cause was doing, cultivating the unreal and not paying attention to the real. So sit in nirvana and listen to the Dhamma.

In the introductory commentary by Chandrakirti, Chandrakirti affirms that delusion is misknowledge, delusion is superficial with the nature of obscuration. Seeing intrinsic realities in things, seeing what isn't there if you like, like a conjurer will produce happenings that aren't real, your ego sees things that aren't real.

And that's the only thing it can do. Because it's unreal itself, it can't see anything that's real.

So when you see and reinforce the reality in things born of conditions, which means your own present existence in the samsara side. When you say "Oh I'm really real", and ignore impermanence, dukkha and anatta as you see now that's what the teacher calls misknowledge. Seeing truly and knowing well the emptiness of phenomena, misknowledge does not occur, because by seeing truly the misknowledge ceases.

Thereby the twelve members cease, the steps of dependent origination when you are making fresh kamma, ceases.

So this habit of reification of the reality in things indicates the habitual perception of truth. You see, the truth is, life is real, life is earnest. In fact it's just a series of events going across your mind. The citta knows, that is the one characteristic of the citta, the citta is enlightened mind. That nirvana is not your property, no one owns nirvana, it's not a being, it's not a thing, it has no taste, no smell, no touch, no mind, it's just what it is.

In the Jewel Rosary Nagarjuna says, "As long as there is the aggregate habit" the packet of the five groups, churning away, churning, churning, churning, appearing and disappearing at you, as long as there's that, now as long as you are not in nirvana, as long as you fall out of nirvana, and touch back on that aggregate habit, then there will be an I.

Until you discern rupa is rupa, vedana is vedana, no owner, no one owns. No one owns the Buddha, no one owns the Dhamma, no one owns the Sangha. The Dhamma is not your property, or my property or the Buddha's property, or anyone's property.
Can't own the Dhamma, can't own anything.

Now the just explained misknowledge is not a holding of persons or things that are a hypothesis or a theory or by the distinct beliefs of Buddhists or non-Buddhist philosophers there's no unique permanent and independent person. We are just part of nature if you like, like water flows into water.

We just, because of causes, the results of wholesome and unwholesome bound to kamma, this five groups, which is our lives, are different. We are de-synchronized with each other. I'm happy your unhappy, you're unhappy I'm unhappy. Unhappiness comes, whatever. So we are, we are, the reality is we are just like bobbing corks on a big ocean not going anywhere. The current sweeps this way we go that way. We are like leaves blown around in the wind. Wherever the wind blows we go.

That's our five groups. None of them permanent, none of them staying but appearing and disappearing second by second out of nowhere - plop. Arising, arising, passing away cessation, like the breath. So we are just a series of anythings, five anythings. And the only reason we see them as a unity is out of misconception. There is nothing unified, the feelings run one way, the memory runs another and we are just scattered.

Just like a tree comes into spring and it’s got all the leaves stuck on the tree - Autumn comes the leaves blow anywhere. Some probably blows into the shire offices, some blows into the street, some blows ... and there they die. So we get a feeling, our mental objects arising and falling, totally impermanent. And that, in other words, to be in samsara is the whole of the efforts are, if you want to, they have no meaning inherently.

There's no inherent meaning in assembling these five groups and the only thing to do is to escape from the continuation of their re-forming which is called birth and scattering, which is called death and re-forming which is called birth and scattering which is called death. So just to dwell in the nirvana and develop that level after level. So that's that.

When selflessness is understood, says Chandrakirti, the "permanent self" is eliminated. It has seen that those chaotic arising and fallings are, there is no permanent self, there never has been past present or future. Chandrakirti says when selflessness, anatta meaning anatta, is understood, the "permanent self" is eliminated. But this is not acceptable because you want the world to have meaning. You want your five groups to have purpose. But what won't accept it? It's the “I” habit, the unreal, I've got to be a me.

Well there's no space in anywhere in the whole of Samsara, in all the universes, there's no chink in reality where an unreal event can find a foothold. Therefore to say by knowing selflessness the self conviction is totally wiped out. This is extremely amazing. This is the amazing, amazing thing that seeing for yourself that that's the way it is.

In the Commentary, Chandrakirti adds, "In order to illustrate this point of mutual unconnectedness all those five groups they go their own way". There's nothing connecting them except they’re driven by past kamma. To illustrate this mutual unconnectedness with an example it is like when one sees a snake hole in the wall of one's house and one removes one's worry by saying there is no elephant there.

And if this were to remove the fear of the snake, alas, how ridiculous it would seem to others. So therefore the people who see correctly don't say because they know very well that whatever they say would be taken by the ego and then the ego would go to nihilism or eternalism or say, "Ah well why should I try to do good?" Well why should you try to do good because the kammic packet hasn't finished yet. And each day, each day where the past runs into the future. You all have got future of good things to come, bad things to come, the result of past unwholesome, past wholesome, you go on.

Those five groups will go on, unless knowing this nibbana with intense power you disconnect. Then you pass away, but you don't pass away. You dwell in parinibbana then, true immortality, but never again do you assemble or make or touch or be in the Samsara. So in Buddhist parlance you have gone to the furtherest shore, you've crossed the ocean of this wandering, the Samsara is like an ocean where you just wander around aimlessly. Crashing, falling around, sometimes happy, sometimes good, sometimes sunshine, sometimes tornado.

You leave the ocean of Samsara behind, you go to the furtherest shore and you are the citta, pure. And you never, ever, ever come to birth in the Samsara any more. And that's it. Now to make this vision stay, to make the knowledge stay, to be able to sit in the nirvana and see correctly, it is basically the power of your teacher, believe it or not, if you look. It's like your Teacher is showing you by telepathy this picture. The Teacher's mind is overpowered your unreal ego because you allowed the Teacher to do it.

Now if you fight the Teacher to bring back your ego packet, and it'll come back when you come out of meditation for sure, the true term of the meditation is the shower of the way so, this five groups, which is still in existence but has some level of attainment because of long practice, this five groups which is not a self, not a being, is imposing by telepathy, I'm sharing my vision of what I see with you so there can be no doubt that such a thing is attainable. This is not a conjuring trick. This is the way it is.

In other words you might argue you're in a Buddha Dhamma Sangha field true. Now the only reason that field exists is it just so happens that two and a half thousand years ago The Buddha under the Bodhi tree did such powerful meditation and had such goodwill and such friendliness that this anatta being, this Teacher, was moved by the kindness of the Buddha and took Vows, Bodhisattva Vows, Tantric Vows under many Buddhas because from my view there are just these five groups wandering in Samsara. But from your view you suffer.

You see in the ultimate level you're suffering was unreal because you're ego mind is unreal. But if you say to people who don't see, "Your suffering is unreal," they just say, "You are being callous, my suffering is real". But at the ultimate level there is no true suffering anywhere in the Samsara. But at the misinformation level for the beings who have not seen the way, not seen the Buddha way, their suffering to them is real.

So from the view of the Buddhas, the Buddhas see like this, there are in existence five groups driven by ignorance, sustained by ignorance, maintained by ignorance. The five groups are empty, Sunyata, they have no inherent existence, there's no self to be found, but the combination of those five groups by beings who are absolutely ignorant, who out of that raw material fabricate delusions, which they have been doing forever, for them they experience suffering. Their suffering in ultimate absolute terms never happened, it was like a conjurer’s dream.

So there is no past, no present, no future in the nirvana. It is timeless, it is stainless, it is pure and it will never come to an end. In other words the higher level of the universe is just the citta, the citta is, it doesn't, not owned by anyone. So an "I" which is unreal can never be liberated. Now to continue the Buddha way you must make merit, merit, merit. You must keep five precepts at least because otherwise you'll make unwholesome kamma. So there in the ultimate level nothing ever happened. There's no inherent reality. There’s just a set of unreal fabrications by combinations and permutations.

So take rest. Well done, well done, well done.

We shall continue with the conclusion to this talk on Knowing Selflessness Destroys Misknowledge on next weeks Buddhist Hour.

May you have refuge in Buddha Dhamma Sangha.

May you be well and happy.

May all beings be well and happy.

The MP3 file and text of the original teaching read on today's program will be available at during February 2005. Today's radio script is available at and in the future we will be upload all our Buddhist Hour broadcasts to the website as MP3files.

The script was transcribed, prepared and edited by Julian Bamford, Frank Carter, Leanne Eames, Anita Hughes, Alec Sloman and Lainie Smallwood.


John D. Hughes Collection Recorded Dhamma Teachings. Transcription Of Dhamma Teachings

Recording Title: Knowing Selflessness Destroys Misknowledge
Tape 6, Side 2
Teacher: John D. Hughes
Date of recording: 27/6/88
Transcribed by: Frank Carter
Checked by: Lainie Smallwood
CD Reference 26_06_88T6S2A
File Name: 26_06_88T6S2A_JDHtranscribe.rtf

5 Day Meditation Course
27 June 1988, 1.37pm

Brown, Lesley (editor), "The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary", Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993.

Words: 4,118


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