From place to ground


The core of what the Buddha is pointing to is a radical shift in perspective. Where are being asked to begin to live from a “ground” which is identified in the Satipatthana Sutta (the discourse on the  4 foundations of mindfulness).  This practice of the 4 foundations is rooted in letting go of our obsession and pre-occupation with a “place”. This idea is also outlined in the discourse on the Noble Quest.

“I considered: ‘This dhamma I have reached is deep, hard to see, difficult to awaken to, quiet and excellent, not confined by thought, subtle, sensed by the wise. But people love their place [alaya]: they delight and revel in their place. It is hard for people who love, delight and revel in their place to see this ground [idam tthanam]: the this-conditioned [ida paccayata], conditioned arising [paticcasamuppada]. And also hard to see this ground: the stilling of all formations, the relinquishing of all bases, the fading away of craving, desirelessness, stopping, nibbana. Were I to teach the dhamma and others were not to understand me, that would be tiring and vexing for me.

“Why should I now reveal what I reached with difficulty? This dhamma is not easily awoken to by those in thrall to desire and hate. Those dyed by desire, covered by a mass of darkness, Will not see what goes against the stream, subtle, deep, hard to see and fine.


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