In the last few years I have become aware of the impossibility of removing misery externally to myself.
But even very recently when a dire issue presented itself to my senses whether through mind ears etc, like the rape of girls and women housed up a few steps from their NGO newspaperman protector, I was furious and reached into my anti fascist vocabulary.
About the flood in Kerala I agreed entirely with my colleague and friend S. Faizi that there must be reparations from the West, adopting in the demand the language of the UNFCCC.
When banks were lending rather than giving money I used the language of Karl Marx to condemn the exponential rise in inequality this exponential increase in wealth for usurers brought with it.
When Supreme Court judges took decisions on the basis of bribes not rule of law I used the language of rule of law and the Constitition of India to condemn them.
When a homeless child in my neighbour hood begged I gave her parents material help.
My misery was always due to my anger, my ignorance and my reactions when confronted with the misery of others.
When something miserable pierced my senses I reacted. Life went on with writing, activism, study etc.
Constructive suggestions were dreams.
Then recently I went on a second Vipassana course.
It suddenly was very clear. No one can help another out of their misery except by showing them the noble path of Dhamma.
Any other reactions of mine do absolutely nothing except spread the news of misery, and make me miserable.
The first noble truth thus is for the person who is suffering to recognise her own misery. And to realise that the best I can do for others is help them get on the noble path too.
Rather than the language of United Nations Conventions or ecosocialism or Marxism or historical materialism or capital in the web of life, or another formulation, I find Dhamma a simple and universal language for ending suffering.
Dhamma is the path of recognising our own misery, understanding its causes, and adopting the technique of Vipassana to liberate ourselves from our misery.
Then when we are at peace, we can compassionately without “I” or “my” help others come out of their suffering too.
Each can only eradicate ones own misery. Noone else can do it for us.
Dhamma, the Pali language word for reality as it is, as observed within the framework of the mind and body, is experienced by using a technique of observation of the contents of one’s thoughts.
It allows one to become aware of the fact that everything in the mind and body arises and passes away, and having experienced that one becomes equanimous in the face of change and therefore happy, peaceful and harmonious.
Having attained that liberation one’s happiness spills through the bounds of one’s own mind-matter frame. One no longer is an “I”, one has no “mine” and great good can come from one”s work as it is done with non-attachment.
This noble path out of suffering was taught by Gautama the Buddha after he analysed the causes of suffering within the framework of his own body through years of meditation, until he became liberated from suffering and began teaching the technique to others.
Once one meditates by observing ones breath, then observing ones sensations in the whole body external and internal, then as one observes one’s cravings longings dreams and one’s aversions, as one observes the physical manifestations of these mental desires, and as one experiences the inextricable linkage between mind and matter, – as one observes the mind as it creates the chain of reaction starting with something coming through the six sense doors and being reacted to in the body and finally by consciousness and in actions or words,- once one experiences this process objectively it is quite obvious that one can master the mind and annihilate reactions, annihilate consciousness in other words, and so annihilate suffering.
Vipassana is a way out of misery for capitalist and worker, polluter and pollutee, indigenous person and robber baron of the State, shopaholic and cancer patient too.
Anger, greed and ignorance are mastered and have no place in our lives.
We are friends of all and we have no enemies. We dont fear death as we have learnt what mind-matter is, and we will observe death as we have observed all other mind-matter experiences in our body as and when it arises and passes away.
We have overcome Karl Marx’s fear of religion because this is not religion, rather it is the fulfillment of his vaguely stated dream of happy associations of independent producers living in the inextricable metabolism with nature which is afterall our own mind-body.
For indigenous people confronted with the market and the State, Dhamma is a well explained personal path for coping and becoming happy again.
Karl Marx had studied Schopenhauer and Gautama Buddha. But just as B.R. Ambedkar did not have time to work out a proper theory of the Rupee because he was so busy with the Constitution of India and annihilation of caste, so Karl Marx could not get round to his theory of “metabolism with nature” and associations of independent producers using money without accumulation because he was too busy figuring out how capitalism works and encouraging workers to strengthen themselves in the communist party and through unions.
Neither Ambedkar or Marx were as radical or as liberating as Gautama the Buddha in their teaching.
I feel it is important now for the noble path of Dhamma to be adopted by all so that they can come out of their misery and live a happy peaceful and harmonious life.
What are we to be taught in the political parties as to how to eradicate our suffering? It is not clear. It is all struggle struggle with no practical way out in the here and now.
Green parties are no practical way out either because they operate within political economy and rule of law even as the individual continues to suffer.
As it becomes apparent to us in meditation that the mind-body is disolved, disolved, disolved, a collection of atoms changing, changing, changing, and consciousness is a product of mind that can be mastered, so obviously social economic and political relations are products of mind and must thus be changing changing and observeable for individuals following Dhamma. There is no social “must” it is not a social struggle. It is the work with the mind-body by each individual that liberates the individual and liberates one person at a time and all living and non living beings from our anger, greed and ignorance.
When we are liberated new wisdom naturally emerges moment to moment, as we carry no baggage from the past.
Taking shelter in this, equanimously, – aware how we are changing, changing, changing, – , we commit to the laws of how to become free of suffering:
No killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no liquor and no lying. These are the first level of right actions we commit to that make the next steps easier. The next steps, the techniques, are right words, right actions and right livelihood; and the third level to become liberated of our suffering is going beyond book learning, going beyond understanding, and becoming wise on the basis of our own experience of Dhamma.
Ten day Vipassana courses teach this content in detail.
Now that we are liberated, the peace happiness and harmony within us spills out through our pores and we can help others come out of their suffering, by themselves learning how to get on the noble path.
I think it is because Gautama the Buddha was from the subcontinent that people here expect to easily be able to adopt and teach Dhamma as our contribution to helping the world out of the misery of collapsing capitalism.
Without Dhamma it is not possible to understand the root causes of misery.
Misery arises in the mind and passes away. Mastery of the mind never allows it to arise again.
In any case the theoretical language of Green parties and eco socialism is not accessible to billions who are already nearly living a life of Dhamma and need only a 10 day course to gain the technique systematically.
Dhamma is naturally accessible and logical to the human mind.
No doubt Plato, Ambedkar and Marx were great minds. Yet their teaching missed giving a method to escape from personal misery at the level of the root cause.
Ambedkar sensed that the Constitution of India would not hold if the human beings were not good. Well this situation has now surely come to pass.
What is keeping people on the subcontinent happy peaceful and harmonious is not rule of law but the clouds and wisps and waves of Dhamma in the individuals.
So best now for all to adopt the noble path of Dhamma to annihilate suffering during the collapse of capitalism and nations. This is in abstract what we are afterall experiencing now, as over accumulation of pollution and capital is disolving relationships and the earth’s systems and the human relations naturally change, change, change.
We can go on observing it all as it happens, but it has no hold on us. It cannot cause misery.
Anandi Sharan was born in Switzerland, lives in Bangalore and last year worked in Araria District Bihar, India. She works on trying to find the best money system to help people adapt to climate change especially in India.