on the shore2

Practice of “Vedana-Parinnaya” to reach “Dukkha-Nirodha” : An illustration.
A Vipassana meditator wants to cross a river of vedana. The first step is to enter the river and experience that it is not permanent. Although the river seems to be the same, there is a constant flow of water. It keeps on passing away allowing more to follow. Similarly, each vedana seems to be the same, but ultimately each is impermanent, each rapidly passing away. This experience enables him to differentiates between the apparent and ultimate truth.

Going deeper he finds that even if he tries to observe vedana objectively, being a beginner, he is again liable to sink into the depths of reaction, rolling and reeling. For a short time, his head arises above the surface, then again sinks below and he is carried away by the current towards unknown destinations.

As the experience repeats itself, gradually it becomes clear to him that his mind is conditioned to wallow in sensations, relishing the pleasant and so generating aversion towards the unpleasant.

As he continues, learning to observe the vedana objectively, he realizes the danger (adinava) in this situation, craving and aversion reinforce vedana which in turn reinforce the reaction, creating a vicious cycle. The successful swimmer starts to emerge from this habit and develops equanimity, understanding the impermanence of vedana. As he does so, he breaks the vicious cycle of misery, at least temporarily, and stops suffering. He now knows what suffering is, how it begins and multiplies. He analytically knows -all vedana(sensations) are anicca (impermanent), dukkha (suffering) and anatta (substanceless). As he continues to work properly, the meditator is able to swim easily in vedana without reacting.

As a result, a moment comes when he is able to successfully cross the river and reach the other shore. Stepping out of the river of vedana, he experiences the nissarana, that is, the emergence from the entire field of vedana. At this stage, he has a foothold on a field totally different from vedana, on the shore beyond the river. He has gone beyond vedana, and reached vedana-nirodha (total cessation of vedana). This is how step by step differentiating & analyzing knowledge lead to dispelling knowledge where vedana is totally eradicated and the entire river of vedana is crossed.

In the words of the Buddha-

Vedananam samudayam ca atthangamam ca assadam ca adinavam ca nissaranam ca yathabhutam viditva anupadavimutto, bhikkhave, Tathagato.

(Having experienced as they really are the origin and passing away of sensations, the relishing of them, the danger in them, and the escape from them, the Tathagata, meditators, is emancipated by non-clinging.)

This is the practice of vedana-parinnaya-to reach dukkha-nirodha by crossing the entire river of vedana.

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