Those who accord with the truth, when it has been appropriately spoken,
will go beyond the realm of death, which is very difficult to traverse
.” – The Dhammapada, verse 86. Translated by Christopher J. Ash.

In the Dhammapada there are many verses about the free person. We can connect these things, making sense of the path of freedom. The free person is free of death and rebirth. They are also depicted in, other verses, as free from mental-emotional ‘stuff’; that is, from craving, obsessive thinking, delusion, separation, fear and dukkha.

Clearly, these things go together – death-dukkha and mental-emotional confusion. Freedom from confusion is the deathless. The link is unrealistic ‘self-ing.’ That is, by creating a false sense of self (through misperception of the nature of our sentient processes) we create our death-dukkha.

“Fully knowing the arising and fading of the five sentient processes (the khandas),
one finds happiness and joy. For those who are discerning, this is the deathless.”

The Dhammapada, verse 374. Translated by Christopher J. Ash.

The deathless is realised right here our being, in the arising and falling of present moment experience. No wonder it is said that mindfulness is the way of the deathless.

We have been considering mindfulness and the process of ‘naming.’ So, I want to start to introduce the topic of ‘thinking about thinking.’ This is integral to the fourth placement of mindfulness – where we work with our concepts of life – and it comes to its deepest fruition in the factors of the awakened mind.

We can note, then, both the importance of language in ‘samsara’ (the delusional version of selfing), and in nibbāna (the awake process of being a person), where the process of mindful speaking is freeing.

As children, we learnt to say ‘I,’ but – contrary to what seemed to us – saying ‘I’ didn’t establish a reality corresponding to the word. Words can’t do that. However, the reality of our body, speech and mind was indeed changed by the naming. That’s what words do: change the experiential situation, of which we are a part.

Language points to the flow of experiencing, which ‘belongs’ always in and as the one big life process, but we misunderstood the process of language-ing – by taking it to refer to fixed things. Experientially, these ‘things’ aren’t actually there, as ‘things.’ Perception doesn’t render ‘ultimates.’

I know I say it again and again, but: Words do not point at separate ‘thing-realities.’ They might point, but they point at the process of which the speaker is herself a part. That’s the intimacy of a well-spoken word. The word won’t separate us from the big-R reality, wherein we are a personal flow in a larger flow of ‘ing-ing.’

The most damaging mistake we made was to think that the ‘mind’ is a separate entity (an existent), an agent who sees, hears, senses, and cognizes. As Douglas Harding says so succinctly, in On Having No Head:

Gradually you learned the fateful and essential art of going out and looking back at yourself, as if from a few feet away and through others’ eyes, and “seeing” yourself from their point of view as a human being like them, with a normal head on your shoulders. Normal yet unique. You came to identify with that particular face in your mirror, and answer to its name.”

In doing so, you foreclosed on the possibility of appreciating a mind like space, where language could interact with present-moment space-like process. Instead you took language to refer to what could be named, objectified, and neatly separated. This is what you had come to identify as your ‘self.’ Knowing this, we can step back from the trap.

“There’s no path in space; there’s no recluse outside of space.
People indulge in separation. There is no separation for tathāgatas.”

Dhammapada, verse 254. Translated Christopher J. Ash

A tathāgata is ‘one who comes and goes in suchness.’