|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).|
|Meditation contemplation tree|
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)|
After enlightenment under a tree
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:
hindrances, inspired, and confident, he expounded the higher Dharma-teaching of buddhas:
- unsatisfactoriness (dukkha),
- its origination,
- its cessation,
- the path leading to its cessation." [M i 379-80]
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...|
"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:
- right view (understanding)
- right resolve (intention, thought)
- right speech
- right action
- right livelihood
- right effort
- right mindfulness
- right mental unification.