Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Penultimate Day: Mayan Calendar (sutra)

Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven, Amber Dorrian, Xochitl, CC Liu, Wisdom Quarterly, COUNTDOWN: -2
Siddhartha meets Mara under the Bodhi tree the night before the dawn of enlightenment.
"Therefore, since the world has still/Much good, but much less good than ill,/And while the sun and moon endure,/Luck's a chance, but trouble's sure,/I'd face it as a wise man would,/And train for ill and not for good./But take it: if the smack is sour/The better for the embittered hour;/It will do good to heart and head..." (A.E. Housman).
Well, this just about does it for us in the Old Age. "Any last words, Zaphod?" "No." "Trillian?" "No."
"I don't have any either," Arthur Dent exclaimed. 

"We figured that, monkey man."

"You, Ford?" "Well, I find the prospect of death contracts the mind wonderfully."

Fortunately, Trillian's been meditating. So she's saved, and her eventual liberation is guaranteed. Not as much can be said for the rest of us. We did make some merit, good karma, and that's a comfort.
(Dhammalokasuttas, Perth, Australia) Ajahn Brahmali explains the discourse on "Fear and Dread" (Bhayabherava Sutta, Middle Length Discourses 4).

Fear not for fear weakens one. Love.
Near the end, this is the end, what to do as it ends? Shall we glance at the nice town, review its war plan, tour the mass graves? If we know there's nothing to fear but this very fear itself, how shall we dispel the fear? It is a problem as old as ancient India. At that time the Buddha dispelled fear by delivering this sutra.  
Study Guide: Discourse on Fear and Dread
Sati Center for Buddhist Studies Sutta Study Program 2008-2009 (edited)
Fearless mudra (
The Pali commentary to this discourse explains that if someone attaining meditative absorption (jhana) with a white disk (kasina), focusing until whiteness fills the mind, emerges from absorption unexpectedly at night then he or she might mistakenly think it is daytime. But this explanation seems forced. 

Another explanation is that a mistake was made during the [memorization, repeating, and] transmission of this part of this discourse. In other words, perhaps the text originally had something that made better sense.

This theory is supported by the fact that the Chinese version has alternative wording:
Abhaya gesture (
“Both day and night, some recluses do not understand the path of the Dharma.” It also has a different description of the third knowledge (Section 31). It contains no mention of the Four Noble Truths or the fourfold formula for the taints (defilements of heart/mind).

The Chinese (EA 31.1) simply has: When my mind became composed, purified, clarified, without blemish, without defilement, grown soft and workable, fixed, and immovable, I called to mind knowledge to eliminate the taints. Then I truly knew suffering (T125 p666c15).
Given the centrality of the Four Noble Truths and the importance of the Buddha’s enlightenment, it seems unlikely that this would have been dropped during transmission. It is more likely that it was added to the Pali version sometime after the original composition. Some support for this idea is found in MN 6 (Section 19), MN12 (Section 19)... More
"Next to last." That's not today. That's not even tomorrow. We're always living in the last moment, because every moment ends with a falling phase. If we could see that, we would not cling. But we do not see that, so we fear (a kind of hate). Or we desire. Or we become confused. And in our aversion-attraction-delusion, we grasp. Then we cling. And so are born all manner of troubles. Fear not. Love more. Sit in self-development to quicken the personal evolution that is trying to happen. Let the solstice, the New age, the advent of the next cycle help speed up the process.

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