Saturday, January 1, 2011

The World to Come? (cartoon)

Wisdom Quarterly (UPDATED NOV. 19, 2012)

Our World
It's clear which world we got. Or is it? It seems we have both. We are like donkeys pulled along by a carrot dangling from a stick. And if we do not fall for the trick, we get hit by the stick.
The economy collapses because of banking and housing "crises." (What crisis? It's banksters stealing homes in a coup and a collapse based on bad loans). But that was planned. Anyone who did not greedily go in for an unrepayable loan voluntarily had new terms inserted by deception or simply suffered as the market sank. One did not have to do anyting to get burned.
It was no accident. This was a great money-making scheme that has worked just as planned. Bankers are richer with interest-free government loans to bail them out as well as the houses they get to foreclose on.
Why do things like this happen to us?
There's an interesting answer, even more interesting than bank plots and high finance conspiracies. We have things the way they are because of who we are. Who are we?
Ordinary Worldlings
Most of us are "uninstructed worldlings" (puthujjanas, literally "one of the many folk"), that is, ordinary unenlightened persons. What does it mean?
A puthujjana is any layperson or monastic who still possesses all ten fetters (samyojana) binding one to the ceaseless Round of Rebirths (samsara). Such a person has not yet reached any of the stages of enlightenment (ariya-puggala).
"Who is neither freed from the three fetters [personality-belief, sceptical doubt, attachment mere rules and rituals (as a means of gaining enlightenment], nor is on the way to shaking free of these three, such a being is called a worldling" (Pug. 9).
According to the commentary to MN 9 (Sutra 9 of the Middle Length Discourses), a "worldling" may be:
  • (1) one outside (a non-Buddhist) who, if believing in moral causation, may be said to have right view at least to that extent, but has no "knowledge conforming to the [Four Ennobling] Truths," as has
  • (2) the "worldling inside the Buddha's Dispensation."
A worlding who professes to be a "Buddhist" may either be a "blind worldling" (andha-puggala) who has neither knowledge of, nor interest in, the fundamental teachings (the Four Noble Truths, the Five Aggregates of Clinging, etc.) or one is a "noble worldling" (kalyāna-puggala), who has such knowledge and earnestly strives to understand and practice the Teaching.  
  • See Atthasālini Tr. II, 451 (tr. by "average person"); commentary to MN 1, DN 1.
Going Beyond
Our aim at Wisdom Quarterly is to find our way out of this endless round of suffering and death known as samsara to awaken by enlightenment (bodhi). Many Buddhists (of the Mahayana school) may insist, "But enlightenment is already here!" Fine. Most of us have yet to notice it, to dwell in it, to live it in full happiness and security from suffering and disappointment of all kinds. This year we will focus on reaching enlightenment more than ever before.

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