The Noble Truth of the end of Dukkha, which is Nirvana or Nibbana. Beyond grasping and control and conditional existence is Nirvana. “The mind like fire unbound.” The realisation of Nirvana is supreme Bodhi or Awakening. It is waking up to the true nature of reality. It is waking up to our true nature. Buddha Nature. The Pali Canon of Theravada, the foundational Buddhist teachings, says little about Nirvana, using terms like the Unconditioned the Deathless, and the Unborn. Mahayana teachings speak more about the qualities of Nirvana and use terms like, True Nature, Original Mind, Infinite light and Infinite life. Beyond space and time. Nirvana defies definition.
Nirvana literally means “unbound’ as in “Mind like fire unbound”. This beautiful image is of a flame burning by itself. Just the flame, not something burning and giving off a flame. Picture a flame burning on a wick or stick, it seems to hover around or just above the thing burning. The flame seems to be independent of the thing burning but it clings to the stick and is bound to it. This sense of the flame being unbound has often been misunderstood to mean the flame is extinguished or blown out. This is completely opposite to the meaning of the symbol. The flame “burns” and gives light but is no longer bound to any combustible material. The flame is not blown out – the clinging and the clung to is extinguished. The flame of our true nature, which is awakening, burns independently. Ultimately Nirvana is beyond conception and intellectual understanding. Full understanding only comes through direct experience of this “state’ which is beyond the limitations and definitions of space and time.
‘That which is difficult to bear’ has a cause – we are the cause of it or play a part in it. We are the cause of Dukkha and the experience of Dukkha in our relationship. In the M/s dynamic as I stated earlier, both Master and slave collude on some level to create the conditions that are favorable to providing opportunities for growth and change. Beyond grasping and pushing away, beyond pulling and controlling, that which is difficult to bear has an end and this end is Nirvana. We create our own reality – as Master and slave we work together on the structure of the M/s dynamic – the Master as the creator of the structure and being intentionally conscious of his or her other (the slave) that exists within the structure of the M/s dynamic. Both seek moments of transcendence and our experiences of this conditioned existence resonate with the use of the tools and implements of our trade. These moments of transcendence –whether you call it subspace, Topspace, ‘being in the zone’, or some other name indicative of an altered state of consciousness, when we are in that headspace, for however long it lasts, it is as if we touch the very face of God in those spaces. In the pushing and pulling of both flesh and spirit we use the energy of that tension to create moments of transcendence…and what follows those sublime moments, like the gentle, overlapping waves produced by the turbulent passing of a boat through the water – the subsequent peace which we enjoy and wholeheartedly seek tends to follow the transcendant moment achieved through our scening. The quest for these moments of immersion, these moments of transcendence seem to be universal in our kink community. If the flesh and the tools are kindling, the fire we seek is embedded in these moments of transcendence.
A good scene doesn’t last forever. All things must as they say come to an end. But if we look at the whole arc of a scene from beginning to end as a physical metaphor – our literal use of suffering to provide a gateway to these moments of transcendence and peace, I would offer that perhaps the most important factor in the experience that we share is not our physical endurance, tolerance of pain or excellence in use of whip or knife or any other implement in our toybag. The most important factor is our focused intention, our sincerity – our authenticity, our commitment to be as real and as true to each other as possible as we commit to embracing and accepting each other. Embracing and accepting each other not only as we are but also the potential embedded within each of us. We walk with each other in our respective roles as Master and slave, Dominant and submissive – and that ‘walk’ so to speak is more than a metaphor. In focus and discussion groups we often talk about our individual and collective ‘journey’ – so then in our interactions and relationships with each other we recognize fellow travelers. And like travelers on an epic quest, sometimes the Universe grants that we share segments of the journey with other souls, fellow travelers of different and unique qualities and experiences – moving from our own personal histories of darkness and ignorance, collectively inching toward our own nirvana through the medium of our M/s dynamic.