Editor's Foreword

Kalama Sutta, Help Us!

Two Kinds of Language

Looking Within

Happiness & Hunger

The Dhamma-Truth of Samatha-Vipassana
For The Nuclear Age

About Author

About Translator






Lecture with the Buddhist Studies Group
at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok
15 December 1961
Translated by Roderick S. Bucknell

This all becomes much clearer if we go by the original meanings of the Pali terms. The word "citta," denoting the mind or the subjective side, translates literally as "builder, doer, knower, that which leads away other things." Rupa, denoting the physical or objective side, is literally "that which is built, that which is easily broken up or destroyed, that which is known, led away, or acted upon."

What we must do is practice looking at the subjective side, the mind. We have to look at the doer rather than the recipient. It should be clear that to go foolishly looking only at the objective side is to look at that on which actions fall rather than at the actor. This means that one becomes a slave, a slave and servant of objects. By contrast, to look at the subjective side, the mind, the doer, is to become the mate, and to gain the upper hand. If you look at the objective side, you are looking passively; if you look at the subjective side, you are looking  actively. So it is essential that we practice looking at the side which puts us in the advantageous position, the side which has the upper hand - the subjective side. This is the value of looking within.

Since the day we were born we have lacked proper training in both Dhamma and philosophy. From the day we were born right up to the present, we have been allowed to singk into materialism, to become infatuated with physical things, and we have looked only at the physical or objective side of things. It is as if we have refused to look at the opposite side of things, the loftier side. But nothing can ever come of just carrying on in the old way. Thus, we must make a new resolution henceforth to look at everything as winners, not as losers. This is why it is essential for us to practice looking at the subjective side of things, until we are able to make the state of things within reveal itself to us in all clarify and no longer be a mystery to us.


Let me clarify further this matter of looking without and looking within by using the most ordinary everyday terms. Looking without and looking within are exact opposites. The without and the within belong together and are inseparable because the things within are dependent on the things without. For example, the body is the basis or dwelling place of the mind; the mind depends on the body. Body and mind are inseparable, yet we can distinguish them as outer and inner, respectively. It is just like a piece of fruit, which has outer rind and inner flesh dependent on each other and inseparable. If we look only without, we see only the inedible rind; but if we look within we find the flesh, the part that is good to eat. If we can't distinguish flesh from rind, we can't eat. If we were forced to eat the lot, flesh and rind together, we would do so very unwillingly.

Thus, there is great benefit in being able to distinguish the within from the without, and then to look at the within. Looking within is essential, but let us not go so far as to develop a negative, cynical attitude toward the without. That would be an error as grave as ignoring the within. We have always to recognize the value of the outer shell, the without just as in the case of a fruit. If a fruit had no rind or shell, the flesh could not exist. Without the rind, the fruit could not produce seeds or flesh, and could never develop to an edible and useful stage. The rind is essential, but to think the rind is everything would be altogether pitiful.

In any case, to look without is to see only the outer shell; to look within is to see the real kernel. If a person only looks without, he is the slave of external objects; but if he looks within, he becomes the master of those objects. As I said the other day, sense objects - all the shapes, sounds, odours, tastes, and tactile sensations that exist - are the world. As long as the mind is allowed to wander carelessly under the influence of outward-looking, it is a slave to objects, dominated by them, overpowered and dragged along by them as if it were being led along by the nose. As soon as the mind looks within, however, it become free, it cannot be led along by the nose, and it is in a condition of freedom from all suffering and torment.

Looking without prevent us from understanding Dhamma, and looking within enables us to understand Dhamma. Always bear this contrast in mind. Why should it be like this? Simply because this thing called Dhamma has to do with the within but is hidden by the without. In saying that Dhamma is hidden, I mean that it is a truth that is as difficult to see as if it were hidden. Dhamma is hidden by the without. We know only about the without; we don't get to know about the within which is hidden by the without. This is our ignorance. To put it simply, we are deluded, infatuated, pigheaded, stupid, worldly, thick, or however you care to describe it. In the language of Dhamma, this condition is call avijja (ignorance). So Dhamma is the truth that lies hidden in all things; it is the within of all things.

We could put it as I did a few days ago and say simply that the idea of "I" and "my" cannot be eliminated by looking without but can be eliminated by looking within. And why? Again simplifying somewhat, because this "I" and "my" is extremely well hidden, located deep within where we can't see it and don't know how to discover it. If we practice looking within, however, using the method taught by the Buddha, the habit of "I" and "mine" simply will reveal itself to us as clearly as do the things without. Looking within will reveal in all clarity that the "I" and "my" alone is the cause of all our chronic suffering. So the "I" and "my" must be killed off by using the right technique- for example, starving them until they wither and die of themselves, like animals penned up without food.


We might go on to make the point that to look without is to be stuck in materialism, while to look within is to go the way of idealism. Materialism and idealism are opposites. These terms will be familiar to you so there is no need to spend time explaining them. Looking without is materialism itself and it inevitably brings the fruits of materialism - namely, endless slavery to material things and endless problems. Because of materialism, our modern world is full of trouble. No matter who is fighting who, each side is fighting for materialism, Each side may hold to its own particular variety of materialism- a cruder variety or a more refined variety; a very extreme, unmitigated, thoroughgoing materialism, or a very subtle fine, barely discernible materialism - nevertheless they are all equally infatuated with materialism.

There is absolutely no way that the present crises in the world can be resolved other than through both sides curing their mad obsession with materialism and becoming more concerned with idealism. We must understand that which has nothing to do with materialism, and which is the highest ideal. We require an inner or spiritual idealism. There will then be no need to outlaw war. People will stop fighting of their own accord and begin seeking the true happiness which comes without any loss of flesh and blood or expenditure of materials. People will live in supreme. Look at the cost of looking without and at the value of looking within. Do take an interest in looking within, in the one and only way of penetrating to Dhamma, to Buddhism.

If any of you already detest materialism and honour idealism, you ought to practice looking within according to Buddhist principles, which I guarantee will bring genuine benefits. I can't speak for other religions, although they may have the same principles. For the present we are speaking only of Buddhism, and we are asserting that the Buddhist ideal has nothing whatever to do with material things. It is far above material things. It is supramundane, beyond this world, beyond materialism. Infatuation with the world is the essence of materialism, so we must always look above and beyond the world.

There is another pair of terms that we often come across. They refer to two different manners of speaking to be found in the Dhamma. One is used when speaking about people and their affairs, about things, about the material side; it is called "everyday language". The other is used when speaking about the mind, about Dhamma; it is called "Dhamma language". Let us take as an example Mara the Tempter, the Buddhist Satan. If we have in mind a kind of demon riding an elephant or horse and carrying a lance or sword, then we are using everyday language. If, however, we have in mind those most dangerous and destructive things, the mental defilements - stupidity, greed, anger - then we are using Dhamma language, the language of the the mind and Dhamma. If you don't practice looking within, you never will recognize Dhamma and the language of Dhamma; you will know only everyday language. If you are particularly deluded, you may fall victim to the propaganda about making merit in order to get to heaven, or making merit in order to escape Mara's snare. But if you practice looking at things in the right way, and penetrate to the truth of Dhamma language, you become a knower of truth, and no one can deceive you.

Looking Within (1) Looking Within (3)

Extract from "Keys to Natural Truth" - Buddhadasa Bhikkhu ,
translated by Santikaro Bhikkhu, Published and distributed by Mental Health Publishing, 14/349-350 M.10, Rama II Road, Bangmod, Bangkok,Thailand
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