Monday, September 21, 2015

Int'l Day of Peace (Buddhist Path to Peace)

Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo (ATI), Ven. Thanissaro (trans.), edited by Wisdom Quarterly

"Peace lies within. Do not seek it without" - The Buddha.
Today is the "United Nations International Day of Peace." But what is the good of talking about peace if we do not have a practical PATH to peace? Fortunately, the Buddha laid out just such a path. Let's examine it with a Thai Buddhist master on this special day.

The Path to Peace and Freedom for the Mind
Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo
Introduction: This analysis of the [Buddhist] Path is intended as a guide to lead practicing Buddhists to peace and well-being in terms both of the world and of the Dharma.

Well-being in terms of the world includes such things as fortune, status, praise, and pleasure. These four things depend on our conducting ourselves properly along the right path. If we follow the wrong path, however, we are bound to meet with loss of fortune and loss of status, censure and criticism, suffering and pain.

The fact that we experience these things may well be due to deficiencies in our own conduct. So if our practice of the right path -- the Noble Eightfold Path -- is to lead us to peace in terms both of the world and of the Dharma, we will first have to study it so that we understand it rightly and then conduct ourselves in line with its eight factors.

Then if we have aims in terms of the world, we will get good results. Our fortune, status, good name, and pleasure will become solid and lasting. Even after we die, they will continue to appear in the world.
If, however, we see that fortune, status, praise, and pleasure are inconstant, undependable, and subject to change, we should immediately start studying and developing the qualities that lead our hearts in the direction of peace.

Women and allies demonstrating for peace (CodePink)
We are then sure to meet with results that parallel those of the world. For example, status can mean the paths of stream-entry, once-returning, non-returning, and arhatship [the four stages of enlightenment] and fortune the gaining of the fruition of stream-entry, once-returning, non-returning, and arhatship: These forms of status and fortune do not deteriorate. They stay with us.

At the same time, we will receive praise and pleasure in full measure, inasmuch as Buddhists chant in praise virtually every night and day that, "The followers of the Blessed One conduct themselves well, conduct themselves uprightly, conduct themselves for the sake of wisdom, conduct themselves masterfully."

Similarly, our pleasure will be solid and lasting, steeping and refreshing the heart with the Dharma, not subject to death or decay. This is called niramisa sukha, "pleasure free from the baits of the world." It is quiet and cool, genuine and unchanging, a pleasure for which people who practice the Dharma, or the Buddha's teachings, aspire.

It is like gold: No matter in what land or nation it may fall, it remains gold by its nature and is bound to be desired by people at large. In the same way, the mental traits of people who follow the right path in terms of the Dharma are bound to give rise to genuine pleasure and ease. Even when they pass from this world, their fortune, status, good name, and pleasure in terms of the Dharma remains and will not leave them.
Thus, Buddhists who aim at progress and happiness study, ponder, and put into practice -- as far as they are able -- all eight factors of the Noble Eightfold Path set out here as a guide to practice.

There may, however, be some mistakes in what is written here, because I [Ajahn Dhammadaro, a Thai Buddhist master] have aimed more at the meaning and practice than at the letter of the scriptures. So wherever there may be mistakes or deficiencies, please forgive me.

I feel certain that whoever practices in line with the guidelines given here is sure to meet -- to at least some extent -- with ease of body and mind in terms both of the world and of the Dharma, in accordance with one's own practice and conduct. May each and every one of you meet with progress and happiness.

Phra Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo
Wat Boromnivas, Bangkok, Thailand, August, 1955

A modern mudra that means "peace" the Buddha might use today (
All of the Buddha's teachings and their practice can be summed up in these eight ennobling factors: 

1. Right View: seeing in line with the truth, that is, with things as they really are. 
2. Right Intention: thinking or intending in ways that will lead to well-being. 
3. Right Speech: speaking in line with the truth.
4. Right Action: being correct and upright in one's activities. 
5. Right Livelihood: maintaining oneself in ways that are honest and proper. 
6. Right Effort: exerting oneself in line with all that is good. 
7. Right Mindfulness: always being mindful of the person or topic that forms one's point of reference [attending to the present moment, being here now, wakeful and clearly comprehending]. 
8. Right Concentration: keeping the mind correctly centered in line with the principles of the truth, not letting it fall into the ways of Wrong Concentration.

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