TREATISE ON ZANDTAO
To understand the path is to understand addiction or conditioning. If there is no addiction then we are left with the path, if there is no conditioning there is just the path that remains.
But as a society we avoid understanding conditioning and addiction. Understanding of addiction is limited to certain types of hard drugs, and occasionally for those who cannot stop drinking alcohol. Apart from this drug abuse, conditioning is perceived by most people as some kind of Pavlovian response, or some kind of brainwashing carried out by inimical countries. Neither of these descriptions are anywhere near the totality of the problem that we actually face, and by restricting descriptions of conditioning society is not likely to reach an understanding.
Addiction follows a spectrum in terms of the level of addiction, the types of addiction, and in terms of the affects that addiction has on us. I have described my own alcohol addiction, I lived with it for 18 years; three years I stopped, one during my path upheaval, one when I studied theosophy, and one when I wasn’t teaching – doing the magazine. [Apart from my initial intro to the path this Youth Centre magazine was perhaps the nearest time I was to my path.] But there are many in society addicted to alcohol but don’t take it as far as I did. Watching friends who drink I can categorically say these people have a problem, but because that problem is socially acceptable the addiction is ignored. Many people drink to cope with work or problems at home. Many take marijuana for similar reasons, these addictions are also ignored as addiction issues even though the law is sometimes involved. Whether the law is justified or not, what form of addiction is it that people are prepared to break a law and risk prison to take the drug?
Middle-class people are addicted to their homes and cars. Whilst it is reasonable – ecologically sustainable - that middle-income people have these, it is their fear of losing them which demonstrates their addiction. People who usually act with intelligence avoid logical argument concerning economy, concerning government practices, concerning decisions on war. When exploiting governments announce that their policies are not causing harm or that they have no other choice, middle-classes believe them because it suits their fears. These people choose to accept governments that exploit in order that they can maintain their home and car, their class has traditionally felt that such governments’ policies will maintain their minimal wealth and status. People, who would always help a neighbour, turn a blind eye to global harm done in their name believing lies that support their government policies and believing lies that besmirch those trying to expose the truth. Typically, they are scared to vote for Corbyn because of the lies their fear propagates. This is a delusion the middle-classes live with, and they avoid the responsibilities their voting patterns bring. In a democracy votes have power and consequences, middle-class people avoid these because of fear, fear of losing their way of life, fear that is manipulated by media whose owners are the 1%.
What about the 1% and their addiction to wealth and power? No matter what your political convictions there can be no doubts the 1% damage the planet, exploit people - as wage-slaves, and even use wars to make a profit – to increase their accumulation. Ultimately the actions of the 1% are not compassionate. These people manipulate governments to facilitate their accumulation turning a blind eye to all the harm the compassionate can see. With this addiction, more harm is caused to others than to themselves so they accept what they do, but it can be observed that these people are not happy.
The wealth and power of these people are held up in our society as the pinnacle of achievement, but what if it isn’t?
Let us examine how addiction is defined. Here is an Oxford dictionary definition of addiction “person who is unable to stop taking harmful drugs”. What about bolemia? “Person who is unable to stop harming themselves”. Is bolemia an addiction? What about an alcohol drinker who harms his family by overspending? This drinker is an addict, a “person who is unable to stop harming his family”. What about the middle-classes who avoid their voting consequences. S/he is “a person who is unable to stop harming others with the consequences of their actions”. And the 1% he (she) is “a person who is unable to stop harming others in order to increase their wealth”. If you cannot stop harming yourself or others, are you not an addict?
There is an additional category of addiction “addicted to self” that I will discuss later, but it seems to me that if your actions cause harm to yourself or others and you do not try to stop them then you are an addict. If we begin to see addiction in terms of being unable to stop harming ourselves or others, then addiction is a far bigger problem than we at first thought. But we do not see addiction in these terms, why not? It is part of conditioning. But if you are unable to stop acting in a way that causes harm to yourself or others, isn’t that the essence of addiction?
This comes down to a decision regarding personal power, do you have the personal power to choose compassion over choosing harm? In fact, the personal power to choose harm is better understood as conditioning, in most situations people whose actions do harm don’t make a conscious decision to do harm. They simply tacitly participate in harming because that is their conditioning, and they don’t have the personal power to choose compassion that goes against the prevailing conditioning. Conditioning is simply this tacit agreement that often does harm. Harm happens through conditioned responses, but it is not by intention or choice; it is simply falling in with what everyone does. If we see harm, do we have the personal power to carry out actions that are not harmful? Does our power have sufficient compassion to overcome the conditioning?
Conditioning is simply all the processes that are part of our upbringing, that are part of what informs our actions as adults. From birth we are conditioned. Through instinct we begin to relate to parents for food, emotion, love. Once we are old enough we enter social institutions such as schools (churches?) where our conditioning continues. And once we are adult we enter institutions such as the office, the workplace, the pub, where that conditioning is reinforced because all around us people have been conditioned.
I am not as yet placing any value on this conditioning, I am not saying the conditioning is good or bad, I am simply saying that we live in a social environment in which we are all conditioned. Within this conditioning environment people can be critical. They might say this aspect of conditioning should be changed to another aspect, but few recognise the totality of the conditioning that is around them. Toltec wisdom (in the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz) describes this conditioning as agreements, we make agreements with our families, our schools, our workplaces. Then as adults we continue the process of agreement by asking the next generation to make similar agreements, this agreement process is seen as creating a dream. The four agreements asks us to begin to go beyond this dream, to go beyond this process of tacit acceptance of agreements by making decisions based on a new set of Four Agreements:-
Agreement and accepting the dream is quite a gentle way of describing conditioning, I prefer the word conditioning because it explicitly describes the human passivity in the process. And at the same time the process is passive because humans are not given the power to be active, are not given the choice to effect an individual change in conditioning. It would be nice if education helped empower us to change conditioning but instead education is restricted to conditioning despite the efforts of some teachers to go beyond conditioning.
Conditioning is the process we are addicted to. I have already described the varied nature of types of addiction, but it is important to understand that addictive response is based on the conditioning we receive. Whatever form our addiction takes it is based on conditioning, and to end addiction we need to go beyond conditioning.
There is a fashionable word that describes the way things are, this is narrative. Whatever narrative we hear (or describe) it is in some way an attempt to describe what is happening as conditioning. Here is a typical “normal” narrative (from here):-
“Within this narrative the basic trajectory of life was seen as go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, go to church, work every day until you have saved up enough money, then retire.”
This narrative could equally be considered as conditioning – a more emotive word that describes the narrative of what is. When I read the normal narrative my shackles rise, but for many it is just an appropriate description of what is.
Some are beginning to say it is time to change the narrative, that we cannot continue to accept this description because of various things that are happening in our world, climate change, robot-automation taking jobs, etc. But the problem with the word “narrative” is that there is no description of power in the narrative. Narrative is a neutral word that suggests that the description just happened, evolved without any forces or power directing the narrative. But is that the case? If we look historically powerful interests have always dominated society, from kings and landowners through to financiers and corporate power yet this is not suggested in the normal narrative.
Suppose we wish to change the narrative, can we do this if it means taking power and wealth away from those who have it? These people who are addicted to their wealth and power will never allow a change in narrative that affects their addiction. But they would easily fall in line with a narrative that enabled the continuation of their addiction.
Whatever happens to the narrative, the changes will be reflected in the conditioning. Look at how behaviour has altered with the changes of political emphasis in the west, especially the US and UK. What was one form of conditioned behaviour has now become another. Under liberalism PC-police repressed racist actions and people behaved accordingly, with Trump and Brexit repressed racist attitudes are now more readily expressed in action; there has been a change in the conditioning. There has been intended funding leading to increased polarisation, a confrontational division that only benefits the 1% who have increased their accumulation; their funding has controlled certain aspects of the conditioning.
But conditioning is not only a reflection of the desires of the particular power, there is so much more to conditioning than the desires of Trump or Leave. Conditioning is all that happens to us in our upbringings, and whilst what constitutes conditioning is greatly influenced by the powerful and wealthy, not all conditioning that happens in family, for example, can be traced back to the interests of 1%-accumulation. Different people, often politically influenced, have varying evaluations of the strength of this 1%-influence on our conditioning, but few would claim there was no influence at all.
When we are considering conditioning it is not enough to evaluate social influences, however great their impact, because that can never give us the totality of our conditioning. We need to consider conditioning in a different way, we need to consider the question of how we are conditioned at a more micro level – event by event.
There is a Buddhist dogma, paticcasamuppada, that describes how each event can condition us. Buddhadasa describes paticcasamuppada here, and there are many great Buddhist teachers who have examined this dogma. But I want to consider this event-conditioning briefly here, and where it can lead; for a greater understanding look at references of these experienced teachers.
This is an extract from Buddhadasa’s paper that describes paticcasamuppada:-
To me this has a very Buddhist dogma feel to it, and it took me a while to relate to it as important. I don’t want you to believe the above, but examine it and see if you can get to its importance. In this situation I want to try to show you that paticcasamuppada determines conditioning, but that this conditioning is based on events and that conditioning is not simply “brainwashing by the 1%” or some other political analysis; conditioning is natural.
Stages 3, 4 and 5 could be considered as an event, something happens and we become conscious of it happening. At this stage the event is neutral and has no impact on us but then how does this begin to affect us? That is the point of contact (6). At the point of contact we react to the event (7 feeling), and desire kicks in (8) - craving. Do we desire this event or not desire it? Once desire (craving) kicks in, it has got “its teeth into us” and clinging (9) develops. Once clinging has developed there is attachment, it has become (10) part of us, part of our selves (11).
This sounds theoretical but for me it shows that an event can be clung to as part of ourselves, how our selves can be conditioned. Instinct is nature’s way of helping us survive beginning at birth. Through instinct we develop maternal attachment, we crave and cling to our mothers. This conditioning has no sinister aspect, we become attached to our mothers and we survive and grow. Sexual desire is another of nature’s instincts, and as the body develops sexual desire and clinging develop. Again nothing sinister in this – just part of natural order of things.
For the overall discussion on conditioning and addiction what I want you to consider is the process of reacting, craving, clinging and becoming self. This is a natural process, it is the way we learn, it is the way we develop, it makes up our personality, our selves. It is natural, just happens, it is just conditioning. Neutral not sinister. Conditioning. Through this process of paticcasamuppada we become conditioned – reacting, craving, clinging, and becoming self. Using this process we grow up and become who we are, we condition ourselves through reaction, craving, clinging and becoming self.
Now examine all the types of addiction that I have discussed. Alcohol, for example, we get used to the taste, we become accepted members of a social group of drinkers, we like it, we want more, it becomes part of who we are. This behaviour gets reinforced by some people to the extent that the conditioning process becomes an addiction, and then possibly a serious problem. The process of reacting, craving, clinging and becoming is no different to nature’s imperative of drinking mother’s milk. The process of being conditioned by neutral events is no different to the process of being conditioned by drug dependency, is no different to the addiction of the middle-classes to their homes, and no different to the addiction of the 1% to accumulation of power and wealth.
This sort of description is useful because it gives us the understanding and mechanism for moving beyond conditionality. There are two main mechanisms. Let us first consider the point of contact (6). As an alcoholic we consider drinking – just say no, otherwise we start reacting to all of the pleasant associations to drinking, the craving clinging and becoming that made alcoholism part of ourselves. Just saying no is all that is required .... and a smile crossed my mouth as I wrote that. Just say no. But of course it is hard, very hard and for some too hard. “12 steps” says there is the need for an external power in order to say no, I suggest that external power is simply internalising the path, following the path. The path is the power that goes beyond conditioning, the path is the way to end addiction, and the mechanism is just saying no at the point of contact.
But the other mechanism concerns stages (1) and (2). When we are ignorant we can become conscious of all kinds of events that could lead to reaction, craving, clinging and becoming. But if we remove that ignorance then the events that come into our purview change.
That sounds vague. Men are supposed to think about sex often (BBC fluff piece). But what happens if a concerted effort is made to reduce the number of times you think about sex? If you are “ignorant” then maybe almost anything will trigger a thought about sex – a desire, but what if you are wiser and decide that you don’t want to keep thinking about sex. When the thought arises let it just fall away. Keep doing this and over time the thoughts will get less and less. This is a form of removing ignorance.
Developing Wisdom and Right Mindfulness as Buddhadasa says (here) means that volitional actions, events that could lead to clinging, will reduce. Being conscious of paticcasamuppada means that there is less clinging, being conscious of conditioning means less conditioning. [In writing this it has become clear to me I have much work to do on paticcasamuppada.]
There are many who politically claim there is conditioning, but of these few see the level of conditioning there actually is. Conditioning is not just the process that makes wage-slaves of so many, conditioning is about all the events that eventually become part of our selves. We can work against this conditioning by considering the two mechanisms above, and hopefully in the end we might not be addicted.
Connected to this teaching of paticcasamuppada is the teaching of the Ariya-Sacca – the 4 Noble Truths. This is perhaps a better known teaching but as Buddhadasa says (here) “Essentially, the doctrine of dependent origination [WZ – paticcasamuppada] is more important than the Four Noble Truths. It is the perfect and ultimate Truth. We must help one another to comprehend it, and promote it to all Buddhists. This is the main reason why we are discussing the “maha-ariyasacca,” the doctrine of dependent origination.” But Buddhadasa has discussed the 4 Noble Truths here.
This teaching of 4NT is directly about ending suffering and connects well with what I was discussing about the path. The first three truths are suffering, clinging and ending suffering. Please note that here I am only discussing the 4 Noble Truths in their connection to the path as I am putting forward, there is much to understand about the 4NT (as with paticcasamuppada), and you would be better advised looking at Buddhadasa (or other great Buddhist teachers). The Buddha described what he taught as teachings “to end suffering”. In the 4NT he directly talks about this, here is an interpretation which I ask you to consider in relationship to the path. In this world there is suffering, once we desire and cling we develop suffering in ourselves, and to end suffering we must try to end this desire and clinging; I am sure you can see the connections with paticcasamuppada.
But the 4th Noble Truth is interesting when talking about path because the 4th Noble Truth is magga – the Noble 8-fold Path. What I am discussing as path is connected to this but is not exactly the same. In magga the Buddha describes 8 approaches to daily life that can help end suffering, these approaches are Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Determination, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration. Attempting to follow magga brings discipline to daily life, and it is this type of discipline that I lacked following my upheaval, it is discipline I lacked because I was immature.
Now there is a distinction I make between magga and the path I am discussing, and that is transcending. I don’t believe that what I have to say is not in tune with what the Buddha taught, but I don’t know the suttas well enough; Buddhadasa talks of arahants as having transcended self-centredness. My upheaval led to some form of transcendence. Following “hitting bottom”, in Chiswick there was “the guys”, presence, all the feelings of bells and banjos, bliss, or what in Buddhism are called jhanas. Somehow I transcended, it was not a conscious process, and in some senses it was a waste in that I was too immature to recognise the value of my experience. When you follow a path such as the 8-fold Path or the 10 Commandments, per se they are not paths that have transcended, but what is important about these paths is that they have discipline and they can lead to transcendence. I do not know enough of Buddhadasa to know how his path worked for him. I don’t think he wrote of an upheaval, his path was not immature as he was a great teacher at an early stage but he did write that “One will never come to see Dhamma by means of rational thinking. Intuitive insight can be gained only by means of a true inner realisation …. If, on looking closely at the actual course of events, we become genuinely fed up, disillusioned and disenchanted with that thing, we can be said to have seen Dhamma, or to have gained clear insight. This clear insight may develop in time until it is perfected and has the power to bring liberation from all things. [ref]”. This is a description of path that coincides with my own view but being “fed up, disillusioned and disenchanted” maybe only begins to touch on my feelings at the time of upheaval – “hitting bottom”. There is no doubt in my mind that Buddhadasa was on the path as I am trying to get at, it is important for me to help people on how to get there, but as far as I know he didn’t discuss it directly although being “fed up, disillusioned and disenchanted” certainly alludes to it. Buddhadasa discusses similar in "Insight by nature method”.
I would like to review how these matters are connected. We live in a world of conditioning, and whilst such conditioning might seem an agreement in most cases we can choose to attempt to overcome this conditioning. In Buddhism there is a description of conditioning known as paticcasamuppada, and there are mechanisms described to overcome this conditioning. The process of conditioning is simplistically reaction, craving, clinging, becoming (conditioned). If we are aware that there is conditioning, then accepting that conditioning if it causes harm is addiction.
Further the process of conditioning based on craving and clinging is connected to another Buddhist tenet – the 4 Noble Truths. These truths inform us that suffering is caused by clinging, and that we can end suffering if we end craving. Suffering is of course harmful, so it seems appropriate to conclude that there is some form of addiction in place with the continued suffering.
The 4 Noble Truths offers us the Noble 8-fold Path as a way to end suffering. This path gives us the discipline to work towards ending suffering but there is a distinction between this path (and other paths) and the path I am suggesting and that is transcendence. For us to truly go beyond conditioning and end suffering there is a need for this transcendence.
Earlier in the Treatise I wrote about the three tenets, this was the core of a suggested way of life discussed in the first 20 chapters. In other words, the 3 tenets, together with the earlier discussions could in some way have formed a path, a way of life like the Noble 8-fold Path but without the quality and integrity that a spiritual teacher like the Buddha can give you. It is a way of life that can help with discipline, help control the mind and body, help control the conditioning and addiction. If it helped bring about transcendence then I am so happy for you, if it doesn’t work on it - it might. If not ways of life such as paticcasamuppada/4NT or the 4 agreements can help bring about the transcendence, it is not the methodology, the way of life, that matters but the transcendence onto the path.
Buddhadasa helps us look at addiction in a different way, and I describe this addiction as “addiction to self”; coming to terms with this less recognised addiction helps remove more conditioning perhaps freeing us up more for transcendence onto the path. Based on the direction of understanding Buddhadasa (talk given by Santikaro) was taking prior to his death, I developed this meme that I want to explain now:-
Rather than considering a process like paticcasamuppada, this starts by examining human “constituents”. It is described in Buddhism that humans are made of 5 aggregates (khandhas) only. These are rupa – body, vedana – feeling, sanna – memory/perceptions, sankhara - mental processes and proliferations, and vinnana – consciousness; in the above meme psyche is vedana, sanna and sankhara.
It is important to understand that humans are khandhas only, note I say humans are khandhas only as opposed to saying I have khandhas; for those who are beginning to see where I am going this is anatta. Let me try to begin to get to this. Perhaps the easiest way to begin to see it is through meditation – anapanasati (Buddhadasa’s book). Sit in your meditation posture (with a straight back), and start to follow your breath. As is normal the mind begins to wander, and the typical process is to gently bring the mind back to the breath and breathing. And again the mind will wander requiring the usual gentle return to the breath. But for this purpose take an extra step. When your mind wanders ask yourself which of the 4 khandhas (body or psyche) is the mind wandering in. Are you thinking about sex? A mixture of body, feelings, and perhaps mental projection as to who you might want to have sex with? Perhaps you start planning – a mental projection. Perhaps you remember a pleasant day in the country, a nasty time at work, frustration (feeling) at the way you are being used or manipulated – memory, perception, mental projection. By taking this extra step we can see that the mind wanders through the khandhas. Through this meditation technique we can see there are only khandhas – that is something I would like you to see, reflect on it, try to come to terms with it. What else is there other than khandhas?
So where does consciousness (vinnana) come in? For this I want us to go back to the beginning. From birth we have instincts that help us survive. We learn that our bodies like mother’s milk. During this learning our consciousness attaches to the enjoyment of mother’s milk (khandhas), it becomes something we like – it becomes part of I. I like mother’s milk. When we are young instinct helps us survive, through this surviving consciousness attaches to experiences we like or dislike, and we gradually learn who we are – build up self. As youngsters we increasingly add to this self through experiences that we become attached to in a positive or way. We have become I – self. Attaching to the khandhas builds up this image of self who we think we are.
This is a normal process, a normal process of conditioning. We start with instinct, build up self through these instincts based on the 5 khandhas. Different experiences in life reinforce aspects of self, and so our personality forms – a conditioned personality. Perfectly natural. But our personalities, our selves, are purely reactive. There are sets of conditions in which our consciousness responds attaching to different khandhas, and by attaching to these khandhas personality forms. Again there is nothing nefarious about this, we attach to khandhas, self forms and we survive.
But during this process of attaching to khandhas and forming self we form an I, we say that we are these attachments, we say we are this personality. But is there anything else in I other than khandhas? Buddhadasa takes this further by asking us to “remove I and mine from the 5 khandhas”. Note he does not say remove the khandhas, we need these for normal daily functioning, but there is no need to attach and form selves. There is a thought, apply it, let it go. We have memories to learn from, there is learning, then let the memory go. But when we attach there is a building up of self, an I, a mine that we become addicted to. Let that self go, and then we can ask:-
Is there anything else in I other than khandhas?
If we accept anatta then the answer to that is no, but in a sense that acceptance might be putting the cart before the horse. These selves are formed through conditioning as discussed with paticcasamuppada, and when I discussed that I suggested ways of looking at that conditioning. Now when we are considering conditioning we need to consider two processes, preventing conditioning from arising and removing the conditioning that has already arisen. For each new event that arises there is potential conditioning – reacting, craving, clinging and becoming self. We have the choice as to whether we accept the conditioning at the point of contact. But once arisen we have to consider how to remove the conditioning that has already happened. We have to consider attaching to conditioning and detaching from conditioning.
So let us look at addiction. When the conditioned process has happened, when we are addicted we have to stop ourselves from taking our poison – whatever it is, and we have to stop the feelings of addiction that our selves consider we have. Our selves feel we are addicted to alcohol. I am an alcoholic, I need alcohol. I am conditioned to like the pleasures of alcohol, and my self desires that alcohol. I have to stop taking a drink, and I have to stop the desire for a drink that comes from myself. I have to stop the conditioning process in two ways, the conditioning arising and the self that has arisen already desiring. Once we stop the conditioning from arising and we stop ourselves from desiring, we are free from the addiction.
It is perhaps easier to see the two sides when we consider alcohol or other drug addiction, preventing the conditioning arising and removing the conditioning that has already happened. The same however is true of self. Through instinct self arises as a natural process, but once arisen we think that we are this personality that has arisen naturally. But what happens if we examine self from the point of view of khandhas, and see that in our selves we have been clinging to khandhas. Try to detach from this self, use our consciousness to choose not to have this self, and begin to detach from our conditioning of self. And if we remove all the conditioning that has created self, what is left?
I answer the path, the path that is beyond conditioning, in my Buddhadasa meme what is beyond the body, psyche and self is sunnata – voidness. Eckhart Tolle talks of presence when we go beyond ego, these are the same. When there is no self there is just path, presence, sunnata. Earlier in the treatise I looked at the 3 tenets with the discussion around it as a possible way of life, and that working on the 3 tenets can help remove conditioning and addiction thus transcending onto the path; here is a possible way of seeing this:-
It is now time to consider this conditioning in daily life. I have discussed instinct in the formation of self as the natural growing-up process. But do we have to subscribe to instinct as conscious adults? When we consider sexual attraction we might argue that this never stops. But is that true? It is of course a natural procreative instinct for many people. Our bodies develop sexual interests, and for many this is governed by nature’s need for survival, but once the need for procreation has happened what happens to that sexual desire? It is still there but it is not driven by instinct it comes from the self, I desire. But what if we choose not to desire, then this desire lessens. The less we accept the desire, the less self desires. And as we have seen with the 4NT the cessation of clinging ends suffering.
So this brings us to addiction again. If we accept desire, then we do not end suffering. If we allow ourselves to be conditioned then we create self, self desires, and causes suffering. If we cause suffering or harm then we are addicted. This is why I look at addiction as more than the addiction that is connected to substance abuse. For me addiction is concerned with harm and suffering, it is natural for there to be compassion so why do we allow harm and suffering? Addiction that is based on this conditioning, I call "addiction to self".
Once we are not addicted to self then there is sunnata, and this helps us understand what we can do to follow the path, to end suffering. We can try not to be addicted, addicted to substance, addicted to material, and addicted to self. When there is no such addiction all we are left with is path, sunnata – voidness, presence.
So let me rephrase that, how do we follow the path? How do we enable presence, sunnata? And the answer is then removing addiction, addiction to substance, addiction to material, addiction to self. How do we remove addiction? By ending conditioning. We observe how we are conditioned, we look at that conditioning, and we remove that conditioning. At the same time conditioning is happening all the time around us, it never ends, it is natural and more. New conditioning can arise so try to prevent the new conditioning creating self.
Now all of this is not something that we need to practise just on Sundays. Conditioning can happen every minute of every day. So to prevent all the suffering that comes from conditioning we need to end our addiction. And sunnata is there to help us. If we make a disciplined attempt to end addiction then we find that sunnata, which is always there, steps in to help us. It is perhaps better understood as addiction shutting out sunnata. If we are addicted then there is no presence. If we are addicted we are not following the path.