The Deathless

Sam led our Sangha this week on the topic of a phrase mentioned many times in Buddhist cannon: “the deathless”.

Sam chose excerpts from the following talks (from

2016-03-27 Energy of Release – The Deathless Element – where Consciousness Finds no Footing 59:12
Ajahn Sucitto
Buddhist Retreat Centre : The Deeper You Go, the Lighter it Gets

2017-11-03 TBIF: on The Mula Sutta: Through the Portal of Self into the Non-Dual Heart 61:04
New York Insight Meditation Center : NYI Regular Talks

Here are the last lines of the Mula Sutta:

“‘All phenomena are rooted in desire.[1]

“‘All phenomena come into play through attention.

“‘All phenomena have contact as their origination.

“‘All phenomena have feeling as their meeting place.

“‘All phenomena have concentration as their presiding state.

“‘All phenomena have mindfulness as their governing principle.

“‘All phenomena have discernment as their surpassing state.

“‘All phenomena have release as their heartwood.

“‘All phenomena gain their footing in the deathless.

“‘All phenomena have Unbinding as their final end.’

From the Buddha:
In describing unsupported consciousness, the Buddha taught: Wherever there is something that is intended, something that is acted upon or something that lies dormant, then that becomes the basis for consciousness to land. And where consciousness lands, that then is the cause for confusion, attachment, becoming and rebirth, and so on. But if there is nothing intended, acted upon or lying latent, then consciousness has no basis to land upon. And having no basis to land, consciousness is released. One recognizes, ‘Consciousness, thus unestablished, is released.’ Owing to its staying firm, the heart is contented. Owing to its contentment, it is not agitated. Not agitated, such a one realizes complete, perfect nibbana within themselves. (Samyutta Nikaya 12.38 and 22.53)

And a quote from the book “As It Is” by Tony Parsons: “When I don’t know what I am I sanctify these experiences, take ownership of them and give them great significance. I believe they mean something which, once understood, will provide me with answers and formulas. But these experiences are only consciousness concealing and revealing itself in order to be recognized. When I know ‘what’ I am I discover that I am not existence; I am the presence which allows existence to be. Existence either blossoms in that presence or reflects back my sense of separation.”

And a quote from the book “I am That” by Nisargadatta Maharaj: “When you look at anything, it is the ultimate you see, but you imagine that you see a cloud or a tree. Learn to look without imagination, to listen without distortion: that is all. Stop attributing names and shapes to the essentially nameless and formless, realize that every mode of perception is subjective, that what is seen or heard, touched or smelt, felt or thought, expected or imagined, is in the mind and not in reality, and you will experience peace and freedom from fear. Even the sense of ‘I am’ is composed of the pure light and the sense of being. The ‘I’ is there even without the ‘am’. So is the pure light there whether you say ‘I’ or not. Become aware of that pure light and you will never lose it. The beingness in being, the awareness in consciousness, the interest in every experience — that is not describable, yet perfectly accessible, for there is nothing else.”