Sunday, April 9, 2017

Why does anyone love big trees? (sutra)

AP; Peter Harvey (SN 56.11); Dhr. Seven, A. Larson, C. Quintero (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
World's largest living organism [except for mycelium], General Sherman, Sequoia Nat'l Park
Kevin Martin, state coordinator for NH's Big Tree Program, measures European Beech in Portsmouth, NH, in program that searches streets, backyards, woods for largest trees (AP).
Forget roses and birds. These folks like their big trees
PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire - A horse chestnut tree towers over a busy street in New Hampshire's main port city.

It's known for its history more than its height; legend has it that William Whipple planted it after returning in 1776 from signing the Declaration of Independence.
Meditation contemplation tree
But at nearly 70 feet (21 meters) tall, it is also big for a chestnut, and that is what brought Keven Martin out one rainy morning.

Armed with tape to measure its circumference and a laser finder to calculate its height, Martin was here to find out whether the tree remained the state's biggest horse chestnut, a title it has held for decades.
The bodhi tree (haroulagypsydreamweaver)
"It is not only the biggest, but it's been around a long time," said Martin, who coordinates New Hampshire's Big Tree Program when he is not building boats. More than 700 champions in the state have been crowned.

And while there may not be any redwoods out here, the state is home to 10 national champions, including the country's biggest black spruce and American mountainash. More

After enlightenment under a tree
Peter Harvey edited by Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly

[The setting:] Seven weeks after the Buddha's complete awakening or "enlightenment," he goes to his five former companions, with whom he had previously practiced extreme asceticism (Vin i 8-10).

After trying severe asceticism, he had given this up for a more moderate approach based on a healthy body and the meditative absorptions (jhāna) -- mindful, calm, joyful expanded states of consciousness based on mental unification (samādhi, coherence, lucidly coming together).

The following is seen as the first teaching he gave to anyone. In other contexts, the Buddha taught the Four Ennobling Truths (true and helpful realities that lead to enlightenment) to people after first giving them a preparatory discourse (sutra) to ensure that they were in the right frame of mind to be able to fully benefit from the teaching:

"Then the Blessed One gave the householder Upāli a gradual discourse, that is, a talk on giving (generosity), on moral virtue (sila), on rebirth in heavenly worlds; he pointed out the danger, the inferior nature of and tendency to defilements inherent in sense-pleasures and the advantage of renouncing them.

"When the Blessed One knew that the householder Upāli's heart/mind was ready, open, temporarily freed of hindrances, inspired, and confident, he expounded the higher Dharma-teaching of buddhas:
  1. unsatisfactoriness (dukkha),
  2. its origination,
  3. its cessation,
  4. the path leading to its cessation." [M i 379-80]
These Four Ennobling Truths taught by the Buddha [as the central teaching that leads those who practice to enlightenment here and now] are not as such things to "believe" but to be open to, see, contemplate, and respond to appropriately:

It is possible for an ordinary, average human to fully understand the unsatisfactory/painful, abandon what causes it, personally experience its cessation (its end), and cultivate the path that leads to its end.

These Four Ennobling Truths are the four fundamental dimensions of experience as seen by a spiritually "noble" [enlightened, awakened] person with deep wisdom: the conditioned world (universe), how it originates, bringing about its cessation (the Unconditioned, nirvana), and the path that leads to bliss and peace.

Indeed, it is by insight (wisdom, prajna) into these four that a person becomes spiritually ennobled.

Sitting, all of the defilements came up...
Thus have I heard. At one time the Blessed One was dwelling at Vārāṇasī in the Deer Park at Isipatana. There the Blessed One addressed the group of five:

"Ascetics, these two extremes should not be followed by one gone forth (into the left-home life). What are the two? One is the pursuit of sensual happiness in sense pleasures, which is low, vulgar, the way of the ordinary person, ignoble [not leading to awakening], not connected to the goal [enlightenment and nirvana], and the other is the pursuit of self-mortification [severe austerities], which is painful, ignoble, and not connected to the goal.

"Ascetics, without veering towards either of these two extremes, the Enlightened One has awakened to the Middle Way, which gives rise to vision and knowledge (knowing-and-seeing), which leads to peace, to higher knowledge, to full awakening, to nirvana.

"And what, ascetics, is that Middle Way awakened to by the Enlightened One which gives rise to vision, which gives rise to knowledge, which leads to peace, to higher knowledge, to full awakening, to nirvana?

"It is this very Noble Eight-factored Path, which is to say:
  1. right view (understanding)
  2. right resolve (intention, thought)
  3. right speech
  4. right action
  5. right livelihood
  6. right effort
  7. right mindfulness
  8. right mental unification.
"This, ascetics, is the Middle Way awakened to by the Enlightened One, which gives rise to vision, which gives rise to knowledge, which leads to peace, to higher knowledge, to full awakening, to nirvana. More

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