An excerpt from a talk given July 16, 1982.
. . . This state of mind with its unawareness is a magnificent mind, bold and daring -- not only radiant, but also bold and daring as well, and reckless because of its daring, in thinking that it's smart. It's not reckless in the ordinary way. It's reckless in line with its nature as a state of mind of this sort. This is called the nine forms of mana, or conceit. The nine forms of conceit lie right here. The Buddha explains this in the five higher fetters (sanyojana): passion for form, passion for formlessness, conceit, restlessness, and unawareness. Conceit means to assume -- to assume that the state of mind blended into one with unawareness is one's self, that it's 'me' or 'mine', and then taking it to make comparisons: 'How is it with those people or these people? Are their minds on a par with mine? Higher than mine? Lower than mine?' This is why there are nine forms of conceit. In other words, three times three is nine. For example, our mind is lower than theirs, and we assume it to be lower than theirs, higher than theirs, or on a par. Our mind is on a par with theirs, and we assume it to be lower than theirs, higher than theirs, or on a par. Our mind is higher than theirs, and we assume it to be lower than theirs, higher than theirs, or on a par.
The refined level of defilement takes this state of mind out to make the comparison -- because it's in the phase where it has fangs. Its fangs are growing sharp. The fangs of unawareness: They're called conceit, or self-assumption. Once this state is dissolved, what is there to assume? What is there to be radiant? To be defiled? To be bold and daring? To be afraid? There isn't anything, once that nature dissolves through the power of investigation.
These things, you know, are phenomena that create problems in line with their level. Their level is subtle, so they manage to create subtle problems. Blatant defilements create blatant problems. Subtle defilements create subtle problems. When the defilements are gone, there's nothing to create any problems. There are no more problems in any way, no more conditions for conventional reality to make further connections. All that remains is absolute purity, which is why there are no more problems.
Absolute purity is a condition for what? What problems does it create? The Buddha says that we run out of problems. This is where they run out. However many levels of becoming and birth there may be in the mind, it has known them step by step until it reaches the converging point, leaving just the seeds of these things that get planted here and there as birth. So we burn them up with tapas, the fire of our effort, until they are completely eradicated. So now are there any levels of becoming and birth to make further connections? Whom do we have to ask? Even if the buddha were sitting right in front of us, we wouldn't ask him, because the truth is the same for us as it is for him. There's nothing different enough for us to ask. This is why the Dhamma is said to be sanditthiko: We know it and see it ourself. Paccattam veditabbo vinnuhi: Those who know it, know it for themselves alone. This means that only those who know it from the practice can know it. It can't be made available to anyone else.
This is what the Buddha calls vusitam brahmacariyam: It's the end of the job. The earth-shattering job is done -- earth-shattering because becoming and birth build themselves up with earth, water, wind, and fire; or because any level of becoming and birth is a matter of convention, which is now overturned. This is why we say it's earth-shattering. So what is there to move in and take up residence in the mind?
Now we can watch defilement. Once we have completely killed defilement in this mind, then how can defilement be kept hidden from us when it displays itself in anyone else's mind or actions? This mind can't help but know it every time. As they say, defilement ordinarily rules us completely without our knowing it, but how can the Buddha and the arahants have any trouble seeing? They see in the flash of an eye and they're already disgusted. Those who know, know to the point where they're disgusted: What do you say to that? As for us, we're the blind living with the blind. We don't know our own affairs or those of anyone else. Neither side knows, but each side thinks that it knows, assumes that it knows, assumes that it's right -- and so both sides argue and bite each other like dogs because their inner eyes don't see. They don't have the eye of discernment like the Buddha and the Noble Disciples. This is the way it is with defilement: It has to assume itself and exalt itself. The more vile it is, the more it assumes itself to be good. This is the way defilement is. It has never submitted to the truth of the Dhamma from time immemorial.
For this reason, we practice to stamp out these things. Don't let them linger in the heart. Stamp them out till they're completely scattered and smashed, and then you can be at your ease: the mind completely open and yet a reservoir for the quality of purity, without an inkling of convention passing in. If we were to make a comparison with conventional reality, it's an outer space mind, but that's just a manner of speaking.
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