Monday, August 27, 2012

Seven things the Buddha taught

Dhr. Seven and Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly
Reclining Buddha in Pagan, Burma (KateMcKenna/
Buddha and change (Omoo/
Before passing into final nirvana, the Buddha gave a final exhortation. He had taught seven essential things:

1. As soon as a desire arises, dissatisfaction co-arises. Our entire psycho-physical existence is beset by this unsatisfactoriness. Clinging makes it worse. By their own nature things fall away. Everything of which we are composed falls away. Yet, we cling and will not let go. We cannot let go. But there is an escape from dissatisfaction and disappointment. 
Wisdom itself has the power to uproot clinging, harming, and ignorance to free us from all forms of "suffering," whether subtle or gross. This path to release is the Buddha's Dharma, the stainless path laid down 26 centuries ago although often reformulated with the essential message remaining: THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS, which ennoble any individual who practices in accord with them, are the way to the development of compassion, wisdom, and final liberation.
2. Do not be content with this transient state, but instead really look at it and strive to undo the three bonds -- greed, hatred, and delusion -- that hold one like a poisoned slave who is sure to perish. We cannot walk the path alone unaided, yet no one can "save" (walk the path) for another. Indeed others may save our life, point out the way to the heavens, or help free us from miserable states. But striving to awaken is something one undertakes for oneself to benefit others as well as oneself

3. When the "self" (atta) is seen for what it actually is -- a composite constituted by many transient parts, it is realized that ultimately, in an unconventional way of speaking, there is "no self" (anatta) who suffers or is liberated, is trapped or is freed, dies or is reborn -- except that ignorance makes it so. So it is said that the universe is "illusory" (maya).

(The Brahminical/Hindu belief that uniting a self and the external world one leads to "eternal serenity" is exactly mistaken but widely believed in Mahayana forms of Buddhism. If non-duality were the answer, others would already have a path to final liberation and there would be no need for the Buddha to have arisen in the world and made know the fourth Noble Truth -- the Noble Eightfold Path).
(American Buddhist Perspective)
4. Practice "meditation" (bhavana and jhaneti: cultivation, self-development, progress in serenity then insight or proper-concentration then mindfulness of the factors of Dependent Origination to bring wisdom into being). 
5. Remember what the Buddha taught -- which he mostly limited to what would advance listeners (savakas) toward enlightenment or maintain the Teaching in the world (vinaya) as long as possible. His final exhortation was, "All component things are hurtling toward destruction, [so] work out your emancipation with diligence!"
6. When the first four absorptions (jhanas) are developed as "proper concentration" (samma samadhi), one can begin to see impermanence by mindful and penetrative observation. Every "thing" is constantly changing, including every component we call the parts of ourselves -- form, feelings, perceptions, formations, and [the process of] consciousness -- with the sole exception being "the unconditioned element" called nirvana.
7. Compassion and non-attachment (non-clinging) naturally emerge out of liberating-wisdom. Because everything -- and every component of our separate existence -- is fleeting, attachment to them makes no sense for one who knows-and-sees.

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