The Ultimate Truth vs the world of the Psychophysical Self

‘The heart knowing the Dhamma of ultimate ease sees for sure that the khandhas are always stressful. The Dhamma stays as the Dhamma, the khandhas stay as the khandhas, that’s all.’

~ Ajahn Mun, The Ballad of Liberation from the Five Khandhas, ll 180–86
(Thanissaro Bhikkhu trans.)

So here, Ajahn Mun is saying that the 5 Khandhas/skandhas – the psychophysical self – our ordinary mind and body – are always stressful, always dukkha and is subject to suffering.

On the other hand, the Dharma – in this context meaning the Ultimate Truth, is distinctly separate from the world of the 5 skandhas – the psychophysical world that we experience through our body.

So:

  • The 5 khandhas – have the nature of instability, change, decay and death inherent within it – and so, are subject to suffering
  • The Ultimate Truth – the Dharma has no suffering inherent within it because it is not unstable, has no change, no decay and no death within it – it is ultimate ease.
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3 thoughts on “The Ultimate Truth vs the world of the Psychophysical Self

  1. I like this quotation. As beginners, we assume that the aim Dharma study is to improve our lot, which is true up to a point. But we have to be careful not to think that we will ever get this things completely right or perfect in this conditioned world — and even if we can, we will have to fear that they will fall apart soon after (and they will) — because it is the nature of samsara to be unstable, unsettled and irritating. All we can do for the skandhas is try to create optimal conditions, but we have to do so realizing we are arranging deck chairs on the Titanic…

  2. Very well said, Dharma fool. The sensory world that we experience through our body endowed with its senses – the world of the 5 Khandhas – inherently has the nature of dukkha – decay, death. So we can only do so much trying to get this world perfect for our happiness – before they change and become imperfect again. To move beyond change, decay and death, we need to go beyond this sensory realm of decay and death. In other words, find something within yourself that does not change despite the fact that everything we observe outwardly does change – because whatever does not change will never decay nor die.

  3. Excellent analogy regarding trying to re-arrange deck chairs on the Titanic. They’ll stay nice for only so long until the ship sinks. This is exactly what the world that we experience through our senses is like.

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