Friday, July 13, 2012

Enlightenment Fast (Part 1)

Dharmachari Seven, Amber Dorrian, Wisdom Quarterly (UPDATED July 13, 2012)
In a rush to gain liberation -- to know and see, to touch nirvana -- we make spiritual exertions.
Sometimes odd, often useless, these practices or delusions are clung to in spite of the immediately effective path being laid out.
Whatever else one may do or abstain from doing, the Noble Eightfold Path stands as a reminder that we must take eight categorical factors into consideration:
  1. Right View (of the Four Noble Truths)
  2. Right Intention (motivated by non-harming, renunciation, and non-cruelty)
  3. Right Speech (truthful, non-divisive, pleasant, and useful)
  4. Right Action (abstaining from taking life, taking what is not given, and sexual misconduct)
  5. Right Livelihood (avoiding dealings in flesh, poisons, weapons, slaves, and intoxicants)
  6. Right Effort (to abandon and prevent the unwholesome, while developing and bringing the wholesome to perfection)
  7. Right Mindfulness (of body, sensations, mind, and mind objects)
  8. Right Concentration (cultivating calm, collectedness, and serenity up to the level of "absorption" in terms of the first four jhanas)
Because the outline here is detailed by the Buddha, speculation about them in translation is best avoided: "I think right view means... It seems to me mindfulness is... What the Buddha probably meant by concentration was..."
If the core teachings are not enough, the entire path is thoroughly explained as the "Requisites of Enlightenment," also known as the "37 Things Pertaining to Enlightenment" (bodhi-pakkaya-dhamma). They were drawn from the sutras and attributed to a Buddhist missionary in ancient Greece, Ven. Nagasena ("Questions of King Menander" or Malinda-Panha).

A Teacher
"Enlightenment Grove," Bodh Gaya, India
This is the sure path, the straight path, the certain path. Most seekers bypass ever having to grasp and make sense of this knowledge for themselves by finding a wise teacher. Such a guide trains one in:
  • virtue (precepts, self-restraint, and letting go)
  • meditation (calm, concentration, and absorption)
  • wisdom (contemplation, clear comprehension, and mindful insight-practices). 
    The fastest, surest path to "sudden" enlightenment is stilling the mind then HEARING the Dharma. On a foundation of calm concentration/collectedness, insight is able to suddenly dawn.
    Historically, the hearer who attained enlightenment most quickly -- that is, with the shortest instruction by the Buddha -- was a non-Buddhist ascetic named Bahiya of the Bark Cloth.

    To the wise and ready, a few words are enough.

    No comments: