Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Path to Enlightenment (sutra)

Isaline B. Horner (trans. and see also Olendzki), "A Question (Solved by) Inference" (excerpt) (Milinda Panha 5) edited by Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly
Two Buddhist novices revere the Buddha with candles, Burma (Notjustnut/flickr).
King Milinda on ancient Greek coin
Then [the ancient Greek] King Milinda [the Pali name of history's King Menander I] approached the Buddhist sage Venerable Nagasena [from Kashmir], greeted him, and sat down at a respectful distance.

King Milinda, anxious to know, anxious to hear, anxious to remember, anxious to see the light of knowledge, anxious to break down the lack of knowledge, anxious to find the light of knowledge, anxious to expel the darkness of ignorance, aroused extreme steadfastness and zeal and mindfulness and clear comprehension, then spoke thus to Ven. Nagasena:

"Revered Nagasena, have you ever seen the Buddha?"

"No, sire."

"But have your teachers ever seen the Buddha?"

"No, sire."

"Revered Nagasena, if you have never seen the Buddha, and if your teachers have never seen the Buddha then, revered Nagasena, there is no Buddha; the Buddha is not manifested here."

"But, sire, did those former noble warriors [members of the kshatriya caste] exist who were the forerunners of your noble warrior dynasty?"
"Yes, revered sir. What doubt is there?"
"Have you, sire, ever seen the former noble warriors?"

"No, revered sir."

"But have those who have instructed you, sire -- chaplains [Brahmin priests], generals, judges, chief counselors -- have these ever seen the former noble warriors?"

"No, revered sir."

"But if you, sire, have not seen the former noble warriors and if your instructors have not seen the former noble warriors, where are the former noble warriors?"
"Revered Nagasena, articles of use enjoyed by the former noble warriors are to be seen, such as the white sunshade, the turban, the shoes, the yak-tail fan, the treasure of the sword of state, and the couches of great price. By these we can know and can believe that the former noble warriors existed."
"Even so, sire, we may also know and believe in this Blessed One. There is this reason according to which we may know and believe that there was this Blessed One. What is the reason?

"There are, sire, articles of use enjoyed by that Blessed One who knows and sees, the Arhat, the Supremely Enlightened One, which is to say [the 37 Requisites of Enlightenment]:
  1. the Four Foundations of Mindfulness
  2. the Four Right Efforts
  3. the Four Bases of Psychic Power
  4. the Five Spiritual Faculties
  5. the Five Powers
  6. the Seven Factors of Enlightenment
  7. the Noble Eightfold Path.
"By these the world with its devas knows and believes that there was this Blessed One. For this reason, sire, for this cause, because of this method, because of this inference it should be known that there was this Blessed One."

"Revered Nagasena, make a simile."

Greek King Milinda (Menander I) meets with Buddhist monks to ask questions (W)
"As sire, a city-architect, when he wants to build a city, first looks about for a district that is level, not elevated, not low-lying, free from gravel and stone, secure, irreproachable and delightful, and then when he has made level there what was not level and has had it cleared of stumps of trees and thorns, he might build a city there.

"It would be fine and regular, well planned, the moats and encircling walls dug deep, the city gates, the watch-towers and the ramparts strong, the crossroads, squares, junctions and the places where three or four roads meet numerous, the main-roads clean, level and even, the bazaar shops well laid out, the city full of parks, gardens, lakes, lotus pools and wells, adorned with a wide variety of shrines to devas, the whole free from defects.

"When that city was fully developed, he might go away to another district. Then after a time that city might become rich and prosperous, well stocked with food, secure, successful, happy, without adversity, without accident, crowded with all kinds of people. When these people had seen the city, new, well laid out, without a defect, irreproachable, delightful, they would know by inference: 'Clever indeed is that city-architect who was the builder of the city.'
"Even so, sire, that Blessed One is without equal, equal to the unequaled, equal to the matchless ones, unique, incomparable, boundless, immeasurable, of unmeasured special qualities, attained to perfection in special qualities, of infinite steadfastness, infinite incandescence, infinite energy, infinite power, gone to perfection in the powers of a buddha; having overthrown Mara and his army, burst asunder the net of false views, made ignorance to be cast out and knowledge arise, borne aloft the torch of Dharma; and having attained omniscience, unvanquished and victorious in the battle, he built the City of Dharma.
The Buddha's teachings are very interesting and deep (Anek Suwannaphoom/flickr).
"In the Blessed One's City of Dharma the encircling walls are morality, the moats are conscience, the ramparts over the city gates are knowledge, the watch-towers are energy, the pillars are confidence (faith), the door-keepers are mindfulness, the crossroads are the sutras, the places where three or four roads meet is the 'Higher Doctrine' (Abhidharma), the law court is the "Code of Monastic Discipline" (Vinaya), the streetway is the foundation of mindfulness.

"And in that streetway of the [Four] Foundations of Mindfulness such shops as these are offering goods for sale:
  • a flower shop
  • a perfume shop
  • a fruit shop
  • an antidote shop
  • a medicine shop
  • a nectar shop
  • a jewel shop
  • a general shop."
"Revered Nagasena, what is the flower shop of the Buddha, the Blessed One?"
"There are, sire, certain kinds of objective supports for meditation that have been pointed out by that Blessed One who knows and sees, the Arhat, the Supremely Enlightened One:

"[There is] the perception of impermanence, the perception of non-self, the perception of the foul, the perception of peril, the perception of abandonment, the perception of dispassion, the perception of cessation, the perception of not delighting in anything in the world, the perception of the impermanence of all formations, mindfulness of breathing;

"[Furthermore, for the sake of liberating one from conceit and clinging to the body] the perception of a swollen corpse, the perception of a discolored corpse, the perception of a decomposing corpse, the perception of a fissured corpse, the perception of a corpse gnawed by animals, the perception of a corpse with bones scattered, the perception of a corpse hacked up and scattered, the perception of a corpse still bleeding, the perception of a worm-infested corpse, the perception of a skeleton;

"[Furthermore, for the sake of emancipating one from all limits] the perception of loving-kindness, the perception of compassion, the perception of sympathetic joy, the perception of equanimity;

"Furthermore, for the sake of freeing one from attachment to this illusion of safety and security in our present state] mindfulness of death; mindfulness regarding the body.
  • It is interesting to note that no attempt is made here to drag in the systematized Theravada schema of the 40 meditation subjects (used in the Path of Purification or Visuddhi-Magga and the Commentaries).
Intro to Buddhism (Shalu Sharma)
"Whoever is anxious to gain freedom from old age and death chooses one of these objective supports for meditation and, with this objective support for meditation, one is freed from lust, freed from hatred, freed from delusion, freed from pride, freed from false views.

"One crosses over the Wheel of Life and Death (samsara, which is often compared to a perilous sea or flood), stems the stream of craving, cleanses away the threefold stain; and when one has abandoned all defilements and has entered the City of Nirvana that is stainless, dustless, pure, fair, birthless, ageless, deathless, blissful, cooled, and without fear, one sets free one's mind in enlightenment (arhatship). This sire, is called the Blessed One's flower shop."
"Revered Nagasena, what is the perfume shop of the Buddha, the Blessed One?" More

The author, a student and practitioner of Buddhism for 19 years, shares how he changed his eating habits, improved his health, and lost weight by using various meditation practices. These meditation techniques, in conjunction with research, helped him to curb cravings and attachment to SAD, the “standard American diet.” What's it was like going from a heavy intake of animal products to a vegan diet? This book explores the role of eating meat, dairy, fish, and eggs in relation to the Five Precepts on ethical behavior as well as myths and stories non-vegan and non-vegetarian Buddhists tell themselves sanctioning them to eat as they always have.

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