(Last Updated on : 18/03/2015)
Tathata is translated into alternatives as "thusness" or "suchness". It is a cardinal concept in Buddhism as also the Hindu Upanishads; in Upanishads usage, it refers to Brahman. One of the equivalents of the word Buddha is Tathagata, standing for "thus gone" or "thus come". Tathata as a cardinal concept of Mahayana Buddhism, elucidates the appreciation of reality in a given single moment. As no moment never represents similarity with the other, each one can be appreciated for what passes during that given moment.
Gautama Buddha depended wholly on the word Suchness, otherwise related as tathata. In Buddha's own language it is tathata, Suchness. The whole Buddhist meditation consists of living in this word, living with this word, so unfathomably that the word disappears and one becomes the Suchness.
Buddhism relates an example in this instance of tathata. It is assumed that one is ill. The attitude of Suchness is to accept it and say to oneself, "Such is the way of the body," or, "Things are such." Buddhism also advices to never create a fight and start struggling within. If one is barraged with a headache, it is best to accept it. Such is the nature of things. Suddenly there is a noticeable change, because when this attitude comes in, a change follows just like a shadow. If one is successful to accept the headache, it disappears.
Suchness, tathata explains that if one accepts a discomfort, it strangely starts dissipating. This happens because whenever he/she is fighting, the energy is divided. Half of the energy moves into discomfort, the headache and half of the energy fights the headache, a rift, a gap and hence the fight. In truth, this fight is a deeper headache. Once one learns to accept, learns not to complain, not to fight, the energy becomes one within. The rift is bridged and hence, much energy is released. This occurs because now there is no conflict and the release of energy itself becomes a healing force.
Healing does not come from outside. All that medicine can do is to help the body bring its own healing force into action. Health cannot be forced from outside; it is one's energy flowering. This word Suchness or tathata can work so penetratingly with physical illness, with mental illness and finally with spiritual illness, that they all dissolve. Buddhism advices to start with the body to accept Suchness, because that is the lowest layer. If one succeeds there, then higher levels can be tried. If one is unsuccessful there, then it will be difficult for one to move higher. When something is wrong in the body, it is best to relax and accept it and simply repeat inside with a feel, "such is the nature of things."
A body is a compound with many things combined in it. The body is born and it will have to accept death. It is a mechanism and complex; there is every possibility of something going awry. Suchness, tathata counsels to accept it and not go into a process of identification. When one learns the art of acceptance, one remains above, one remains beyond. When he/she engages in a fight, they are bound to come down to the same level. 'Acceptance is transcendence'.
Suchness, tathata in Buddhism advocates that when one accepts, he/she is on a hill; the body is left behind. One states, "Yes, such is the nature of it. Things born will have to die. And if things born have to die, they will be ill sometimes. Nothing to be worried about too much". Men behave as if it is not happening to them, just happening in the world of things. This is the magnificence: when one is not fighting, one transcends. One no longer exists on the same level. This transcendence becomes a healing force. Suddenly the body starts changing. The same can be applied to mental worries, tensions, anxieties, anguish. For instance, one is worried about a certain issue. One cannot accept the fact; that is the worry. A person generally wishes that issue to occur in some way to be different from how it is happening. One is worried because he/she possesses some ideas that are enforced upon nature.
Buddhism once more cites an example, that one is naturally growing old. One is obviously worried. The worry lies in that fact that one wishes to remain young forever; Which is definitely against laws of nature? And nothing can be done against nature. Such is the way of things; they go on moving and changing. The world of things is in flux, nothing is permanent there. If one expects permanency in a world where everything is impermanent, one will generate worry. One would like this love to remain forever. Nothing can be forever in this world; all that belongs to this world is transient. This is the nature of things, Suchness, tathata. Now one can apprehend that the love has disappeared. It renders sadness within oneself, it makes one learn to accept sadness.
Suchness, tathata by Buddhism however, makes everybody alert in specific aspects of acceptance. If one accepts the reality grudgingly, then one will be continually in pain and suffering. If one accepts it without any complaint, not in helplessness, but in understanding, it becomes Suchness. At this stage, one is no longer worried and there arises no further trouble. The problem arose not because of the fact, but because he/she could not accept it the way it was happening. The individual wanted it to follow the own idea. Tathata in Buddhism counsels one that life is not going to follow the individual, one has to follow life. Grudgingly or happily, that is the only choice. If one follows grudgingly, he/she will be in suffering. If one follows happily, he/she becomes a buddha, the life becomes an ecstasy.
A buddha also has to die some day, but he dies in a novel manner. He dies so happily, as if there is no death. He simply disappears, because he says, "Anything that is born is going to die. Birth implies death, so it is okay, nothing can be done about it." On the other hand, one can be miserable and die. Then one misses a subtle point. Going by suchness, tathata in Buddhism, the beauty that death can render to one, the grace that happens in the last moment, the illumination that happens when body and soul part, is sublime. One will miss that because he/she is so worried and is clinging to the past so much and to the body. At that moment, one's eyes are closed. One cannot see what is happening because one cannot accept it. Thus, when one closes the eyes, he/she closes the whole being and then dies. In this manner, one will die numerous times and he/she will go on missing the point of it.
Death is beautiful if one has the capability to accept it. If one can open the doors for death with a welcoming heart, a warm reception: "Yes, because if I am born 1 am going to die. So the day has come, the circle becomes complete." Suchness in Buddhism thus states that one receives death as a guest, a welcome guest and the quality of the phenomenon changes immediately. Suddenly one is deathless: the body is dying, one is not dying. Tathata counsels that one can see it now, only the clothes are dropping, not the individual himself. Suchness beautifully describes that only the cover, the container dies out and not the content; the consciousness persists in its illumination. This is more so, because in life, many were the covers on one's consciousness. In death it is laid bare. And when consciousness is totally bare it has a brilliance of its own; it is the most beautiful thing in the world. But for that, an attitude of Suchness has to be assimilated. Assimilating Suchness is not just as a mental thought, not the "philosophy of Suchness," but one's whole way of life becoming Suchness. He/she does not even think about it; it simply becomes natural.
One eats in Suchness, sleeps in Suchness, breathes in Suchness. One loves in Suchness, weeps in Suchness. It becomes an indispensable lifestyle. One need not be worried about it, need not think about it; it is the way he/she is. This is what Buddhism means by the word imbibe in tathata. One imbibes it, digests it. It flows in one's blood, it goes deep into the bones; it reaches to the very beat of the heart. Then one accepts. The word accept is not a very parameter in suchness. It is adulterated, not because of the word, because one accepts only when one is helpless. One accepts grudgingly, accepts half-heartedly. One generally accepts only when one cannot do anything else. But deep down one still yearns it happened otherwise. One accepts like a beggar, not like a king and the difference is great.
This almost permanent feeling hurts because one carries the past. One carries everything; that is why one is so burdened. Every stage in life, from being young to growing matured is always being carried by beings. Thus senses accumulate, layers upon layers, growing each moment. That is why one regresses at times. These are termed the 'loads' in stages to Suchness, tathata, as one never really accepted anything. On the other hand, if one accepts something it never becomes a load; the wound is not carried over. One has accepted the phenomenon; there is nothing to carry from it. Through acceptance of such a situation, he/she is out of it. Through half-hearted, helpless acceptance, the loaded worries are carried.
Anything incomplete is carried over by the mind everlastingly. Anything complete is dropped forever. Mind has an inclination to carry the incomplete things in the anticipation that some day there might be an opportunity to complete them. In this manner, one has still not transcended the past. And because of such a loaded past, one cannot subsist in the present. One's present is a mess because of the past and the future is going to be the same, because the past will become increasingly heavy. Every day it is becoming heavier and heavier. When one really accepts, in that attitude of Suchness, of tathata, there is no grudge, one is not the teachings. When one accepts everything, one's life becomes merry. Nobody can turn one miserable; no thing can turn one miserable.
Tathata is total acceptance of any given situation and moment. It is not possible to disturb such a man. He is always contented, always discovers a way to be contented. It is a great art. And a man who always finds a way to remain contented has the capability to perceive things transparently. Discontent clouds one 's eyes and vision; contentment makes one's eyes unclouded and vision clear. One can successfully perceive through and through; one can understand things as they are. One simply comprehends that this is the nature of things.
Buddhism, in this context to explain Suchness, elucidates an example. If an individual wishes to go out of the room, he/she will go out through the door, not through the wall, because to enter the wall will mean banging the head against it. It is foolishness. It is the nature of the wall to obstruct, so one does not try to pass through it. It is the nature of the door that one should pass through it; because the door is empty. When a buddha accepts, he accepts things like the wall and the door. He thus acknowledges tathata. He passes through the door, as that is the only way. First one tries to pass through the wall and winds oneself in millions of ways. And when one cannot get out, all crushed, defeated, depressed and fallen, then he/she crawls towards the door.
If you can look at things with clarity, you won't do things like this-trying to make a door out of a wall? If love disappears, it has disappeared! Now there is a wall; don't try to go through it. Now the door is no longer there, the heart is no longer there; the heart has opened to somebody else. You are not alone here; there are others also. The door is no more-for you, it has become a wall. Don't try, and don't knock your head against it. You will be wounded unnecessarily. And wounded, defeated, even the door will not be such a beautiful thing to pass through. Buddhism advices men to look at things in a simple manner to apprehend Suchness, tathata. If something is natural, it is advised to not try to force any unnatural thing on it. It is best to choose the door and be out of it. If one is committing the everyday foolishness of passing through the wall, then one becomes tense and feels constant confusion. Anguish becomes one's very life, the core of it.
Suchness, tathata explains that whenever there is a situation, it is best to not desire anything, because desire will only lead one astray. It is hence wise to never wish and never imagine. One need to look at the fact with total consciousness available and suddenly a door opens somewhere, i.e., a realisation is achieved. One can never move through the wall, or through the door unscratched. Then one remains unburdened. Suchness is an understanding, not a helpless fate. Herein lies the difference. There are people who believe in fate, destiny. They say, "What can you do? God has willed it in such away. It was written, it was going to happen." Yet, deep down there is rejection. The attitude of Suchness is not a fatalist attitude. It does not bring in God, or fate, or destiny. It says, "Simply look at things. Simply look at the facticity of things, understand. And there is a door, there is always a door." One is sure to transcend at the end of the tunnel. Suchness means acceptance with a total, welcoming heart, not in helplessness.