Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Four ways to improve wisdom

Ven. Chandananda (Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara), CC Liu, Bhante (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
The Buddha sitting in ancient Sukhothai, Thailand (Ted Richardson, Phuket Lawyer/flickr)
Buddhism emphasizes the value of wisdom and teaches how to improve it to maximum benefit.
Happiness in life depends on how much wisdom (liberating knowledge, discernment) we have and how much effort we put forth to develop it and bring it to fruition.

The ultimate consummation of wisdom is nirvana. Therefore, Buddhism calls wisdom "wealth" and a "diamond." 
Stupas are reminders of the enlightened (R2)
Wisdom, which may also be called "right understanding" or "right view," can be divided in two -- understanding karma and understanding Dependent Origination.

To cultivate wisdom we have to fulfill four requisites:
  1. associating with a noble friend(s) who explains the Buddha's message,
  2. listening to and studying the historical Buddha's teachings (the Dharma),
  3. wisely-reflecting (YM) on the Dharma we hear and study, and
  4. practicing calm, concentration, and insight (as meditations).
DHARMA license plate (
As a result of these practices, five Spiritual Faculties (bala, part of the 37 Requisites of Enlightenment) increase.
As soon as a supremely enlightened being, a teaching-buddha, meets a person, that best kind of teacher/physician becomes aware of the person's spiritual power and ability, as cultivated in the past (mostly in previous lives): confidence (conviction), energy (effort), mindfulness (bare attention), concentration (collectedness), and wisdom (insight).

Karma, it's everywhere we're going to be.
The Buddha then discerns how best to explain worldly reality to the person. In this way one is able to make very rapid progress.

In the absence of personally interacting with such a teacher -- which comes about, as does so much in life, due to our mental, verbal, and bodily karma (doing) -- we systematically study the Dharma. In this way we make gradual progress toward the ultimate goal of enlightenment and nirvana without sliding back.

Final-nirvana (reclining) pose, accompanied by a golden sheen with symbolic feet, Burma

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