[Question] And if one has practised to the last step of enlightenment, is it equanimity (upekkhā) that will arise – no matter what one gets into contact with, whether good or bad?
If we’ve reached the end of the practice, in terms of the sense spheres or in terms of living with other people, there will be no experience of likes and dislikes anymore. Male and female – these are just aspects of conventional reality, there will be no more feelings that lead towards objects of sensual pleasure. The experience is, that all those likes and dislikes are simply no longer existent.
There are many different phenomena that we might then experience. For example, the nervous system up in the brain feels cool. The experience of sensory contact is not of the kind that leads into a path that gives rise to changes (in one’s mind). There will be a quality that can be called neither agreeable nor disagreeable.
It is a reality of nature that is very pure. This means, although one sees with one’s own eyes what they call “beauty” there is nothing beautiful there. Not in a negative sense though – just that there isn’t anything.
It is an experience of emptiness – all empty. That’s a bit what it’s like. It’s emptiness in a way that gives us the feeling of being unaffected or untouched. Just like there isn’t anything more that we have to respond to or prevent from happening. What is left is simply the feeling of utmost emptiness.
But the experience is not one of indifference in the sense that one doesn’t have a clue of what’s going on. It is indifference in the sense of feeling that there is enough of everything. One is satisfied already. One has had enough. There is nothing more that can be added.
What is left is only a matter of taking different bodily movements and postures, for example, when we take a rest. One doesn’t rest out of any kind of desire. Taking a rest is just a specific way of relaxing the physical tensions in the body. When the time comes to have a rest, one can take a rest without having to experience the nivāraṇa (the five hindrances).
The same is true for the time when one is awake. One really knows to be awake when it is the time to be awake. When one sleeps, one is aware that one sleeps. Sleep is a method that the body uses, but (on behalf of the mind) awareness is still present. It’s just like the saying “to sleep while being awake (and to be awake while being asleep)” (Luang Por laughs gently).
This reflection by Luang Por Liem is from the book, No Worries, (pdf) pp. 60-61.