Essays and Letters on Dhamma
by Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero
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Doubt always remains present and it continuously needs fixing. But how to realize the ideal meaning, if not by following what others have done and by fulfilling commonly-accepted techniques and views? What is the real meaning of existence and suffering?
Meanings is not a book to give direct answers to such questions. There is nothing here that you can take up as a belief, an empty speculation or a theory. The author, Ven. Ajahn Ñāṇamoli, refrains from explaining Dhamma, an act which he regards as mere psychological investigation and linearly-connected facts. Here is no intent to set up a fixed theory. What the author does do is describe the nature of experience as it is: not about this or that problem or fact in the world, but the experience as such—Dhamma, which has to be investigated with proper attention e.g. seeing the present simultaneous relationship of an arisen thing and its determination. With proper attention, the being of things is gradually revealed—and not understanding the nature of this being, the author says, is the fundamental ignorance. He then describes nothing but the nature, the dhamma, of things—not by looking for the meaning, but understanding meanings.
‘Essays’, the first part of the book, contains just that: descriptions of the experience. This is no doubt difficult material to digest: it demands that the reader recognize those described things in his own experience. Without developed mindfulness and right attention, these writings will be impossible to grasp.
The second part of the book, the ‘Correspondence with Mathias’, provides useful support in understanding the essays. This private correspondence has been taking place with a German friend, Mathias, since 2009.
The third part, ‘Additional Texts’, contains questions posted on http://www.pathpress.org by people who wanted to understand the essays and sought clarification, with answers by Ven. Ñāṇamoli. (From the Preface)