Nothing Has Ever Existed

A conversation between Papaji and Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, Kathmandu, 1993.

From “Papaji Interviews”, edited by David Godman, Avadhuta Foundation, 1993.

Papaji:
I came to see you because the time was ripe for me to come.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
We are all aiming in the same direction, moving towards the same attainment. We are all aimed at the same achievement.

Papaji:
I don't think so [laughter].

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Why not? Why not?

Papaji:
Because there is no direction. No direction. Any direction, any direction, leads you to the past.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
But non-direction is the right direction.

Papaji:
Non-direction is....

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Right direction [much laughter].

Papaji:
I remove all the directions. 'Direction' means to have some starting point. Then a destination. Then a path. Then a direction: north, south, east, west. These are concepts. I remove concepts. 'Concept' means past. Past means mind. Mind means space. Mind means direction. Therefore don't give any direction to the mind. When you give it a direction it will take you into a thirty-five-million-year cycle.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Thirty-six million [laughter].

Papaji:
Any claim you make comes from the mind. It rises from the mind. Even the claim, 'I am free from the mind,' is mind.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Yes. Any claim one makes comes from the mind. To claim anything is mind. Not to claim anything is also mind.

Papaji:
Yes. 'I am bound,' is the mind. 'I am free' is also from the mind.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Certainly.

Papaji:
There is no difference between 'I am bound’ and 'I am free,' because bondage and freedom are related to each other. The root is the same. And this root rises from somewhere, but the source is not known. So let us see the root. Let us see the source. The source from which rises the concept of mind, the concept of freedom and the concept of bondage. Let us see the root. If we see where it arises, if we go to the root, there will be no bondage and no freedom. Therefore I say, You are already free'. Already free.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
In the Tibetan language we call this, the ‘rootless and groundless’.

Papaji:
Any language is a 'ground'. This is beyond language. What I speak of is beyond language.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Without using words it’s hard to show the meaning. But I agree: words are only labels, words are only superficial.

Papaji:
Therefore, if you use words, everyone will hold on to them.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Right.

Papaji:
Because everyone holds on to words, it is better not to use words.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
That is why many Masters in the past would use no words but only a gesture, like pointing a finger to the sky. No words, in order to point out the ultimate Truth.

Papaji:
Yes, a word is like a finger pointing to the moon. People hold on to the finger and don't see the moon.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Yes, that's true. The finger is only there to help people to look towards the moon. But also, the moon is not the moon.

Papaji:
Reject both because both are words. Moon is a word. Finger also is a word. Now, where do these words come from? Any word? Where do all words come from?

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Word is made by thought.

Papaji:
Achcha. Thought and mind, no difference.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Thought is a functioning of the mind.

Papaji:
OK. Then thought will function only when there is the T. There is no difference between 'I', thought, mind, space, past. When 'I' rises, everything rises. The world rises, samsara rises, bondage rises, freedom rises. The main cause of all this is 'I' . am bound,' 'I want to be free,' I seek a teacher for freedom,' and finally, 'I am free'. In each case 'I' is still there. 'I' is mind itself. Now, how to remove the 'I'?

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
The knowledge that sees no 'I', that realises egolessness is called prajna. This knowledge, this prajna, that sees no 'I', is the remedy for 'I', for holding the notion 'I'.
‘I’ or ego is the root of samsara. When one holds on to the idea 'I', me and that arise, duality arises. Because of this 'I' there are disturbances, pleasures, karma, and suffering. So the knowledge, the prajna, that realises no 'I' is the remedy for everything. In short, liberation and enlightenment are arrived at through the knowledge that sees no-self. And what you just said before is exactly right. This knowledge is beyond thought, beyond mind.
It is the nature which is free from the subject and object of meditation. And in this knowledge that sees no 'I', you cannot use the word 'meditating' because there's no act of meditating upon something. Why? Because it is the innate Truth, also called suchness, tathata. It is present in everyone. And if we bring into our experience this nature which is already present, then that itself is the method of awakening to enlightenment. It is, itself, the nature of all things.
It makes no difference whether an enlightened being comes into the world or does not, whether he teaches or doesn't teach. The nature of all beings is exactly the same. As you said, This nature is beyond thought'. So what does it look like? If it is beyond thought, we cannot find any words to really describe it.

Papaji:
I will tell you [laughter]. His Holiness speaks about knowledge. First of all, knowledge means knower, knowledge and known. Knower, known, knowledge. Now, who is the knower? The knower has to be there to attain knowledge, and whatever knowledge is there must be from the past.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
There are two types of knowledge. Normal knowledge is with knower, the known, the act of knowing.

Papaji:
Yes.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
But there's also transcendent knowledge which is called the 'prajna paramita'. This goes beyond the duality.

Papaji:
You say, There are two types of knowledge.

Translator:
Right.

Papaji:
So, [separating two glasses of juice in front of him] this knowledge is one type [pointing at one glass], and this knowledge [pointing at the other glass] is another type. Now, this is one and this is two. Wherever there is two there is falsehood. The concept of ‘one’ and the concept of ‘two’ both belong to the past. Now, you say that there are two kind of knowledge. Remove one [removes one of the glasses]. Remove the other [removes the other]. Nothing is left now.
One can only be ‘one’ in relationship to 'two'. So one is also a concept. If both are removed, there is nothing. The concepts of both one and two are gone.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
That's true. Everything is like that. One concept is always dependent on another.

Papaji:
Let me proceed further. What I speak of is emptiness. When 'this' and 'that' are both gone, there is emptiness. In this place the 'I' is finished. For any knowledge to come, the 'I' has to rise, but there is no 'I' in that emptiness. Don't give any names to the different kinds of knowledge be¬cause these knowledges are ignorance.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
What you say is true. But we only use the word prajna—supreme knowledge—when there is no knower and no known.

Papaji:
Correct. This is called prajna. Prajna means beyond, beyond the mind.

Translator:
The word that Rinpoche is using is the....

Papaji:
It is 'prajna'. Beyond knowledge. But this 'beyond knowledge' is not a word. Don't even hold on to this word prajna. Prajna is not a word, not a concept.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Time is also just a concept.

Papaji:
What?

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Time is also just a concept.

Papaji:
I agree. Time is a concept and time is mind.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
So there is no going....

Papaji:
And no coming. So this samsara....

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
When there's no going, there certainly cannot be any coming. Definitely no going and no coming.

Papaji:
There has never been any coming. Not ever.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
But you came [laughter]. You came here.

Papaji:
I will tell you why. You have brought me here [laughter]. I will explain. You are coming, I am coming.' This is samsara.
After enlightenment, the Buddha was quiet. He sat under the bodhi tree and kept quiet. After the attainment of wisdom, enlightenment, he didn't speak.

Translator:
For seven weeks.

Papaji:
Then Ananda asked him, 'Sir, what's your experience?' Buddha didn't answer. He just carried on being quiet. What does this mean?
He was enlightened in his twenty-ninth year. Up till his eightieth year he was speaking about enlightenment. His speaking came from no-mind, no-thought. It came from prajna. Was that speech coming from thought? No, it was coming from no-mind.
Not everyone can speak from no-mind. Ordinary people will use the mind to speak. In order to speak from no-mind, one must know that one is already enlightened. If there is the feeling that enlightenment is something that has been gained, then it will be lost later, because whatever is gained will be lost. If it was not there before, or if it is newly-acquired, then one day it will be lost.
If you know that you have not gained anything, and that you are not going to gain anything, you are aware that nothing ever existed. This is the ultimate Truth: nothing has ever existed.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Ultimate Truth, is it worth anything?

Papaji:
What?

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
What is ultimate Truth good for? What is the use of ultimate Truth? Are there any good qualities there?

Papaji:
It is total Truth, total Truth. And now, Truth is asking Truth, ‘What is the use of this?' There is nothing else except Truth. And It reveals Itself to a holy person. Truth Itself reveals Itself to a holy person.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
That is correct. But will you accept that ultimate Truth possesses wisdom, compassion, and an ability to help others?

Papaji:
Yes, yes. Yes.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Then are not these the qualities of ultimate Truth?

Papaji:
Ultimate Truth includes compassion, but this is not a compassion for someone else. True compassion does not recognize anyone else.
There are waves in the ocean. Each wave has a certain form—a length, a breadth and a height—and is moving in a particular direction. But are they separate from the ocean? The wave might feel that it is separate from the ocean, and it may go searching for the ocean, but is it ever separate?

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
I don't understand. How can there be compassion, but not for others?

Papaji:
I will tell you about compassion. Compassion and Truth are one and the same thing. If my hand is picking up food from the plate and putting it in my mouth, I will not say, 'My dear hand, thank you very much. You have put food into my mouth. [laughter]' Who is being compassionate to whom? The whole of samsara is one. The whole of samsara is one.
Buddha was compassion Itself. Buddha was compassion Itself. It forgot everything. It knew nothing other than Itself. It forgot about everything.
You must know the story of the diamond merchant whose son became a follower of the Buddha. His only son became a monk and followed the Buddha. When the Buddha walked through this man's town, the diamond merchant stood in front of him and started to abuse him. He carried on abusing him for six hours. The Buddha, who was compassion Itself, smiled at him for the whole period. He just smiled [laughter]. When his stock of abuses was finished, the Buddha said, ‘Now it is my turn'. And he carried on smiling at him.
The diamond merchant went back to his shop, threw all his diamonds in the street, closed his shop, set fire to it and became a follower of the Buddha.
This is called compassion. True compassion burns the roots of the ego. When confronted with true compassion, suffering ceases forever.
This word 'compassion' has recently been adopted by Christian missionaries, but what they are practising is not true compassion. They are trying to help 'others'.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Yes. Compassion which includes the concept of 'others' is deluded, mistaken. But there is also a compassion which has no duality, which does not arise from mistaken concepts.

Papaji:
That is what I am speaking about. Compassion which has no relationship with the mind, with the ego.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
To have 'compassion with concepts' is better than having feelings of anger or hatred. But I agree that compared to the compassion which is non-dual, the normal compassion with concepts is not clean, not sure. Non-conceptual compassion is only present when realizing emptiness.
Very good! We agree on everything! [Laughter]

Papaji:
I have no place for disagreement. I have no place for disagreement.

Translator:
Rinpoche says he's happy to meet you and also happy to talk with you.

Papaji:
Thank you very much. I am very grateful. I'm happy to see the work you are doing. I am happy to see that you are spreading a message of peace. I have seen many Buddhist groups in the States. The Buddha's teachings are needed now. The world is being destroyed by chaos. There is fight¬ing everywhere. We should do what Ashoka did in his day—spread the message of peace. We need many people like Mahendra, Mitra and Bodhidharma, people who will spread the Buddha's message of peace to all corners of the world. This is my aim also. We can all work on this.
The children who come to see me [the audience laughs as he gestures towards them] are ambassadors. When they go back to their countries, they spread the message of peace. The dharma is being spread by these people.
The Buddha was my first Guru.

At this point Papaji told many stories from his childhood. These have already been recorded in the first chapter of Papaji Interviews. He particularly emphasized the strong attraction he felt towards the Buddha in his early teens.

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
If you did that when you were very young [referring to the time when Papaji dressed as a Buddhist monk and went out to beg] it shows good karma from a past life. You have a strong imprint from a past life. This is a proof that you have been practising Buddhist meditation in past lives [laughter].

Papaji then told several more stories which are also in chapter one, including the one in which he saw all his past lives while sitting on the banks of the Ganges. He then talked about reading, in a Mahayana sutra, an account in which the Buddha went through a similar experience.

Papaji:
I saw all my lives, right from a worm up to my previous life. I saw many human lives, and many other lives. And I saw them all in a split second. This whole cycle of birth and death which appears to take millions of years is, in reality, only a split second. In the moment of enlightenment one will know this to be true. All troubles, all sufferings, all cycles, all concepts of cycles, arise and disappear in this split second. If you do not touch the mind for a split second, you will know this directly.
Simply meditate. Be without thought for a split second and you will know who you really are. Thank you. Buddham sharanam gacchami. [I take refuge in the Buddha.] Thank you.

Translator:
It is Rinpoche’s good wish to meet you again in future. [Rinpoche then put a prayer shawl around Papaji's neck.]

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche:
Very good, very good [laughter].