The seed is made only of non-seed elements. The suffering is like that. Happiness is like that. The Buddha is like that. Cloud is like that. Everything is like that. Everything is a composite thing. And we have the word, "formation" to designate composite things. Samskara, "行 (Hang)" in Chinese. Every composite thing, every formation is impermanent. This is famous statement in Buddhist literature, "諸行無常 (All formations are impermanent.)" Because things are impermanent, they don't retain absolute identities. They change all the time. No one can swim twice in the same river. And even if we are the same persons, the river is not the same river. And many sages have seen that. Not only Buddha but also all sages have seen this reality of impermanence.
And you know that the last four exercise of mindful breathing is about four kinds of concentrations that help us to liberate. The 13th (exercise), contemplating impermanence. This is one concentration. And in every tradition of Buddhism, impermanence is a practice of concentration, samadhi. We all have an idea about impermanence. We know that things are impermanent. We accept the truth of impermanence. But we do not have the concentration of impermanence. Whoever know perfectly what impermanence is, accept the truth of impermanence. But we still behave as if things are permanent.
If you have a concentration of impermanence, when you look at your partner, you know that she is impermanent and you are impermanent. And what you can do is to make her happy today, you do it. Because tomorrow may be too late. But many of us behave as if she is going to be there for one thousand years. And if something happens, she is no longer there and we come to cry. Because we don't have the insight of impermanence. We only have a notion of impermanence. So, good practitioners are not satisfied with notions she got from a dharma talk. She practices mindfulness and concentration in order to maintain that insight alive. And if the insight is alive in her, then she behaves perfectly. And she will not regret in the future.
If you know that your beloved one is impermanent and you are also impermanent, you will not get angry at her and make her suffer. Suppose someone is angry at his beloved. And the practice recommended to him is to close his eyes and visualize his beloved one three hundred years from now. And it only takes a few seconds to touch the reality of impermanence and to see that is not intelligent at all to get angry at her. And you cherish the time being together. And when you open your eyes, your treasures are present and you want to hold her in your arms instead of trying to punish her, saying something strong.
So, the insight of impermanence is what we need. And not the notion of impermanence. And if we have the insight of impermanence, we have the insight of emptiness and we also get the insight of signlessness. You are not caught by the idea of self because nothing is permanent. Everything is changing. And everything contains everything else. A flower contains the whole cosmos. And your beloved one contains the whole cosmos also. The sun, the moon, the earth, everything.
So, the first sign, or the notion the Diamond Sutra recommends us to remove is the notion of self. And you have a lot of freedom, a lot of liberty. That liberty, you can't go out to the street and demonstrate in order to get. That liberty is the result of deep looking meditation. And removing the notion of self, you step into freedom. You are free from the complex of superiority, of inferiority and of equality because you see no self to compare. You have a complex because you compare between two selves to see that one is higher, one is lower. And because you still compare, that is why you remain to be recognized as equal. But if you know that you are in him, he is in you and you inter-are, that both of you are empty, there is no self, and you don’t have to compare. And you are free from three kinds of complexes.
So, in psychotherapy, low self-esteem is sickness. And the healing is trying to promote the self, to bring it a little higher. That’s not a fundamental way. But we have to see that high self-esteem is also a kind of sickness. Low self-esteem brings a lot of suffering but high self-esteem also brings a lot of suffering. You can make many people suffer and you suffer also. And also a complex of equality is not healthy. Only the big insight, the great insight that everything contains everything else, everyone is empty of separate self. And there will be no more comparison. And you get out of suffering. And you don’t have to get recognition because you know that the whole cosmos is in you. The Buddha is in you. The consideration is in you. The sun is in you. You have no complex at all and that is complete liberation. That is stepping into freedom, the removal of notion of self.
We need to be careful that the above Thay's Dharma Talk is based on the ultimate truth (non-duality), just like the Heart Sutra.