Impermanence and Value

For a long while I was resistant to many of the ideas of Buddhism such as non-attachment and suffering. It struck me that this was one miserable philosophy of life always focussing on suffering. Then one day I had a Tango moment. I saw dukkha translated as dissatisfaction. Now, it all made sense. Many people are perennially dissatisfied with their lot and love a good old whinge, complain, and moan. It could become an Olympic sport.

It was a truth, the truth of dissatisfaction.

How then to live in a world without being attached to anything and yet not having anhedonia or being nihilistic?

It requires only a subtle shift. Instead of resenting being born, which many appear to do, why not accept with joy the gift of life. In which one is merely borrowing the things which the universe supplies. Why not value these gifts without grasping, without clinging, because they just like you are impermanent. On the scale of the universe a human being is mightily impermanent, you exist for around 10-8 of the age of the current universe!! That is pretty fleeting.

But hey we can tend to see ourselves as mightily important.

The trick is to value without coveting, to enjoy without indulging, to take only so much as you need from life and to be thankful for the loan. Know that the universe does not owe us anything whatsoever, so we have no right to feel in anyway entitled.

If we are such fleeting beings time is precious and is a gift that is not to be wasted. You cannot hang on to a second, a minute or an hour.

Value is the middle way. Not clinging and attached, not nihilistic and uncaring, valuing with humility.

Attaining the meaning of impermanence, a being turns from dissatisfaction with a growing sense of equanimity and balance, and places value on the gift of life. Its chance to learn and evolve, here on this beautiful blue planet for but one fleeting moment of now.

Comparison Mind is a Root Cause of Suffering

Rational thinking, in other words, ratioing one thing against another is considered sensible in some circles. It can be called reasonable. It is a basis of modern scientific thinking, where one compares hypothesis against experimental data, it is however also reductionist. We are encouraged to weigh things up, to compare one set of data against another. There is a whole bunch of this going on at the moment. For some bizarre reason people are comparing national COVID-19 responses, playing a game of who is better.

In school we are taught to compare things, even in literature. We are ranked according to grade averages. Schools which get their students through exams with a higher grade average are considered better than. Universities who do well in research excellence frameworks are better than, whilst others are worse than. People may even be prettier than or fatter than, uglier than or size zero. Someone might have a nicer more expensive car. This whole notion of comparison is in many cases a rod for our own backs. A rod of judgement, a rod with which we judge our own success and failure. A rod which on occasion we beat ourselves up with.

Comparison mind has permeated out of the theatre of appropriate use and into a mainstream.  It is so widespread, and I’ll wager that it does not bring happiness, peace and acceptance. Because of this abomination the word enough can never be sated. It, comparison, is a part of the gross illusion on the mental plane. People devote and inordinate amount of time to comparing. Who has the nicest arse, the biggest cock, the most plastic surgery? It is more than a little bizarre.

I sometimes refer to comparison mind as top trumps thinking. People look to have one metric with which they can somehow be better than someone else. If you so wish you might even be so bizarre as to call it a unique selling point an USP.

My hypothesis is this:

Comparison Mind is a Root Cause of Suffering

How much time do you spend / waste in comparison?

See I have asked you compare how much time you waste comparing, it is fucking groundhog mind!!

Heart Sutra

Perceiving that all the five skandhas are empty saves all beings from suffering.

Form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form.

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

No appearing, no disappearing.

No taint, no purity.

No increase, no decrease.

All Dharmas are marked with emptiness.

No cognition-no attainment.

Nirvana.

 

Unexcelled perfect enlightenment – anuttara samyak sambodhi.

 

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha!

 

 

Maha Prajna Paramita

Prajñāpāramitā (Sanskrit: प्रज्ञापारमिता) in Buddhism, means “the Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom.” The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā (“wisdom”) with pāramitā (“perfection”).

Tathāgata (Devanagari: तथागत, Sanskrit: [t̪əˈtɑɡət̪ə]) is a Pali and Sanskrit word that the Buddha of the Pali Canon uses when referring to himself. The term is often thought to mean either “one who has thus gone” (tathā-gata) or “one who has thus come” (tathā-āgata). This is interpreted as signifying that the Tathagata is beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory phenomena. However there are other interpretations and the precise original meaning of the word is not certain

THE BODHISATTVAS RENUNCIATION

IT was night. The prince found no rest on his soft pillow; he arose and went out into the garden. “Alas!” he cried “all the world is full of darkness and ignorance; there is no one who knows how to cure the ills of existence.” And he groaned with pain.

Siddhattha sat down beneath the great jambu-tree and gave himself to thought, pondering on life and death and the evils of decay. Concentrating his mind he became free from confusion. All low desires vanished from his heart and perfect tranquility came over him.

In this state of ecstasy he saw with his mental eye all the misery and sorrow of the world; he saw the pains of pleasure and the inevitable certainty of death that hovers over every being; yet men are not awakened to the truth. And a deep compassion seized his heart.

While the prince was pondering on the problem of evil, he beheld with his mind’s eye under the jambu tree a lofty figure endowed with majesty, calm and dignified. “Whence comest thou, and who mayst thou be asked the prince.

In reply the vision said: “I am a samana. Troubled at the thought of old age, disease, and death I have left my home to seek the path of salvation. All things hasten to decay; only the truth abideth forever. Everything changes, and there is no permanency; yet the words of the Buddhas are immutable. I long for the happiness that does not decay; the treasure that will never perish; the life that knows of no beginning and no end. Therefore, I have destroyed all worldly thought. I have retired into an unfrequented dell to live in solitude; and, begging for food, I devote myself to the one thing needful.

Siddhattha asked: “Can peace be gained in this world of unrest? I am struck with the emptiness of pleasure and have become disgusted with lust. All oppresses me, and existence itself seems intolerable.”

The samana replied: “Where heat is, there is also a possibility of cold; creatures subject to pain possess the faculty of pleasure; the origin of evil indicates that good can be developed. For these things are correlatives. Thus where there is much suffering, there will be much bliss, if thou but open thine eyes to behold it. Just as a man who has fallen into a heap of filth ought to seek the great pond of water covered with lotuses, which is near by: even so seek thou for the great deathless lake of Nirvana to wash off the defilement of wrong. If the lake is not sought, it is not the fault of the lake. Even so when there is a blessed road leading the man held fast by wrong to the salvation of Nirvana, if the road is not walked upon, it is not the fault of the road, but of the person. And when a man who is oppressed with sickness, there being a physician who can heal him, does not avail himself of the physician’s help, that is not the fault of the physician. Even so when a man oppressed by the malady of wrong-doing does not seek the spiritual guide of enlightenment, that is no fault of the evil-destroying guide.”

The prince listened to the noble words of his visitor and said: “Thou bringest good tidings, for now I know that my purpose will be accomplished. My father advises me to enjoy life and to undertake worldly duties, such as will bring honor to me and to our house. He tells me that I am too young still, that my pulse beats too full to lead a religious life.”

The venerable figure shook his head and replied: “Thou shouldst know that for seeking a religious life no time can be inopportune.”

A thrill of joy passed through Siddhattha’s heart. “Now is the time to seek religion,” he said; “now is the time to sever all ties that would prevent me from attaining perfect enlightenment; now is the time to wander into homelessness and, leading a mendicant’s life, to find the path of deliverance.”

The celestial messenger heard the resolution of Siddhattha with approval. “Now, indeed he added, is the time to seek religion. Go, Siddhattha, and accomplish thy purpose. For thou art Bodhisatta, the Buddha-elect; thou art destined to enlighten the world. Thou art the Tathagata, the great master, for thou wilt fulfill all righteousness and be Dharmaraja, the king of truth. Thou art Bhagavat, the Blessed One, for thou art called upon to become the savior and redeemer of the world. Fulfill thou the perfection of truth. Though the thunderbolt descend upon thy head, yield thou never to the allurements that beguile men from the path of truth. As the sun at all seasons pursues his own course, nor ever goes on another, even so if thou forsake not the straight path of righteousness, thou shalt become a Buddha. Persevere in thy quest and thou shalt find what thou seekest. Pursue thy aim unswervingly and thou shalt gain the prize. Struggle earnestly and thou shalt conquer. The benediction of all deities, of all saints of all that seek light is upon thee, and heavenly wisdom guides thy steps. Thou shalt be the Buddha, our Master, and our Lord; thou shalt enlighten the world and save mankind from perdition.

Having thus spoken, the vision vanished, and Siddhattha’s heart was filled with peace. He said to himself: “I have awakened to the truth and I am resolved to accomplish my purpose. I will sever all the ties that bind me to the world, and I will go out from my home to seek the way of salvation. The Buddhas are beings whose words cannot fail: there is no departure from truth in their speech. For as the fall of a stone thrown into the air, as the death of a mortal, as the sunrise at dawn, as the lion’s roar when he leaves his lair, as the delivery of a woman with child, as all these things are sure and certain-even so the word of the Buddhas is sure and cannot fail. Verily I shall become a Buddha.”

The prince returned to the bedroom of his wife to take a last farewell glance at those whom he dearly loved above all the treasures of the earth. He longed to take the infant once more into his arms and kiss him with a parting kiss. But the child lay in the arms of his mother, and the prince could not lift him without awakening both. There Siddhattha stood gazing at his beautiful wife and his beloved son, and his heart grieved. The pain of parting overcame him powerfully. Although his mind was determined, so that nothing, be it good or evil, could shake his resolution, the tears flowed freely from his eyes, and it was beyond his power to check their stream. But the prince tore himself away with a manly heart, suppressing his feelings but not extinguishing his memory.

The Bodhisattva mounted his noble steed Kanthaka, and when he left the palace, Mara stood in the gate and stopped him: “Depart not, O my Lord,” exclaimed Mara. “In seven days from now the wheel of empire will appear, and will make thee sovereign over the four continents and the two thousand adjacent islands. Therefore, stay, my Lord.”

The Bodhisattva replied: “Well do I know that the wheel of empire will appear to me; but it is not sovereignty that I desire. I will become a Buddha and make all the world shout for joy.”

Thus Siddhattha, the prince, renounced power and worldly pleasures, gave up his kingdom, severed all ties, and went into homelessness. He rode out into the silent night, accompanied only by his faithful charioteer Channa. Darkness lay upon the earth, but the stars shone brightly in the heavens.

 

excerpted from:

BUDDHA, THE GOSPEL

By Paul Carus

Chicago, The Open Court Publishing Company,

[1894]

Abhijñā – Higher Knowledge

Abhijñā – Higher Knowledge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Abhijñā (Sanskrit: अभिज्ञा; Pali pronunciation: abhiññā; Standard Tibetan: མངོན་ཤེས mngon shes ་; Chinese: 六通/(六)神通) has been translated generally as “knowing,”, “direct knowing” and “direct knowledge” or, at times more technically, as “higher knowledge” and “supernormal knowledge.” In Buddhism, such knowing and knowledge is obtained through virtuous living and meditation. In terms of specifically enumerated knowledges, these include worldly extra-sensory abilities (such as seeing past and future lives) as well as the supramundane extinction of all mental intoxicants (āsava).

Such direct knowledge, according to the Buddha, is obscured by desire and passion (chanda-rāga):

 Monks, any desire-passion with regard to the eye is a defilement of the mind. Any desire-passion with regard to the ear… the nose… the tongue… the body… the intellect is a defilement of the mind. When, with regard to these six bases, the defilements of awareness are abandoned, then the mind is inclined to renunciation. The mind fostered by renunciation feels malleable for the direct knowing of those qualities worth realizing.

Enumerations of special knowledges

In the Pali Canon, the higher knowledges are often enumerated in a group of six or of three types of knowledge.

The six types of higher knowledges (chalabhiññā) are:

  • “Higher powers” (iddhi-vidhā), such as walking on water and through walls;
  • “Divine ear” (dibba-sota), that is, clairaudience;
  • “Mind-penetrating knowledge” (ceto-pariya-ñāṇa), that is, telepathy;
  • “Remember one’s former abodes” (pubbe-nivāsanussati), causal memory, that is, recalling one’s own past lives;
  • “Divine eye” (dibba-cakkhu), that is, knowing others’ karmic destinations; and,
  • “Extinction of mental intoxicants” (āsavakkhaya), upon which arahantship follows.

The attainment of these six higher powers is mentioned in a number of discourses, most famously the “Fruits of Contemplative Life Discourse” (Samaññaphala Sutta, DN 2). The first five powers are obtained through meditative concentration (samadhi) while the sixth is obtained through insight (vipassana). The sixth type is the ultimate goal of Buddhism, which is the end of all suffering and destruction of all ignorance. According to the Buddha, indulgence in the abhinjas needs to be avoided, as they can distract from the ultimate goal of Enlightenment.

——-

Similarly, the three knowledges or wisdoms (tevijja or tivijja) are:

 

  • “Remember one’s former abodes” (pubbe-nivāsanussati);
  • “Divine eye” (dibba-cakkhu); and,
  • “Extinction of mental intoxicants” (āsavakkhaya).

The three knowledges are mentioned in numerous discourses including the Maha-Saccaka Sutta (MN 36) in which the Buddha describes obtaining each of these three knowledges on the first, second and third watches respectively of the night of his enlightenment. These forms of knowledge typically are listed as arising after the attainment of the fourth jhana.

While such powers are considered to be indicative of spiritual progress, Buddhism cautions against their indulgence or exhibition since such could divert one from the true path of obtaining suffering’s release.

That Infernal Internal Dialogue.

{Written in 2011}

Earlier on this year I was overcome by a very strong sense of how much apparent suffering there is in the world, and I mean that more in the sense of angst, fear and frustrated desire than in the sense of genuine suffering. For most people in the west life is relatively speaking, comfortable. Even if times are financially difficult the vast majority do not have to exist under the conditions in refugee camps such as Dafur; so many are unhappy and actually quite grumpy about their lot. The world then has to it a sense of malaise or disease, in which most are not at ease with themselves nor their life conditions. I was filled with a sense of deep love for my fellow humanity and the folly which creates and perpetuates this sense of malaise.

As such I was drawn to the word’s of Shantideva’s Bodhisattva vows:

As long as diseases afflict living beings

May I be the doctor, the medicine

And also the nurse

Who restores them to health.

Altruistic and life affirming as these sentiments no doubt are there are some people who do not want to change, nor lift themselves out of the apparent suffering in which they live.  I have pondered long and hard as to what causes most of this apparent suffering and it is fairly plain to see that it is that infernal internal dialogue which is causative of apparent suffering. Through what we say to ourselves we create our own sense of reality and for some that is infernal, or a living hell of sorts. So my premise for today is:

Our internal dialogue is the cause of most of our apparent suffering, as such it is not our friend rather our own self created enemy.

The basis or neuro linguistic programming (NLP) and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is that reality and behaviours can be changed by altering both what we say to ourselves about stuff and how we act within this self created framework. People live life in a manner which is very much akin to building a house. As we evolve, we lay the foundations in youth, the first bricks in early adulthood and leave a gap perhaps for cavity wall insulation. We then construct the rest of the house as life progresses. The nature of our construct does not change that much as it evolves and apart from a few variations the basic design is set at some point in the past. The extent to which our house differs from the others on the housing estate which is humanity speaks volumes on our individual tendency towards being avant garde or herd like. The house, the castle, is what ever we tell ourselves it is or aspire to.  We build our lives by telling ourselves all sorts of stories about ourselves, our capacities, our desires. These stories are often heavily influenced by our peers, the media and the times. In our talking both internally and with others we create our own “reality” and our shared “reality”.

Internal dialogue is very repetitive and as such it is our internal mantra. These dialogues of course vary, though perhaps not quite to the extent that one might first imagine. Some of the dramatic elements are common and shared, these might be related to house, children, jobs, careers, health, holidays, religion, sex, food, drinking and television based entertainment. These are the building blocks of the common dream, that larger housing estate upon which we build our own little houses. 

Our internal dialogue is often of a very comparative nature, discussing whether we are as good as our peers, better than them and whether our house matches up to our own expectations and the perceived expectations of others. Much of this dialogue creates an imaginary and self limiting reality in which we are forever unhappy because we fail to live up to expectations. In a very real sense we conspire with each other to limit and by and large strive towards the lower common denominator called social acceptance. My guess is that the self esteem, self confidence and self belief of many is way lower than any outer presentation to the world.  Most of all internal dialogue is the most fertile of grounds through which fears are propagated and amplified by the means of collective mind.  Internal dialogue provides for us all a justification as to why it is foolish to try something entirely new and perhaps even slightly unknown. It breeds an infernal fear of ill health, death and dying and a terror of complete social exclusion; and in so doing creates an earthly hell of sorts.  The desire for longevity is misplaced. When my sell by date is up I hope to be taken off the shelves and not to be left there to rot.

Internal dialogue bolsters the sense of shared victimhood and “it is not fair” mentality. When, if one is detached, it is easy to see that for most people in the western world, there is really not that much to be grumpy about. There are relatively few who face starvation and gang rape on a daily basis. That might be something to complain about!!

Much internal dialogue centres around the concept of physical beauty and sexual attractiveness in which access to horizontal jogging is placed a little too high on the great mantelpiece of life. The vast tracts of advertising imagery based upon idealised physical forms, fashion and lifestyle, acts as an accelerant to the fire of internal dialogue, through which the comparative fire of mind says we are not good enough. Very few stop to ponder on the fact that physical beauty can in it self be a real curse. Internal dialogue is mostly about the form side of life and where we may or may not stand in some imaginary pecking order.

The plethora of fears associated with diet, health, exercise and longevity fill the mind with a mass of bric-a-brac such that the thoughts and sounds of internal dialogue are like so many young birds in a nest clamouring for the parental worm. The internal dialogue needs and demands constant feeding, as such it is a harsh master. There is simply no space or room amidst all that noise to stand back and consider about where life is going. The apparent urgency of internal dialogue causes the days, months, years and decades to flash past like an express train. The desires of the internal dialogue appear paramount and are rarely, if ever, sated.

My experience of most internal dialogues is that they are filled with such words as you can’t, you should, you ought to, that is normal, you have failed, that is not what is done here and would daddy be proud of that? For many there is a relative cacophony of entirely negative thought forms which create a climate of some grim application to life.  This is so very familiar that, just like heroin, it is very addictive.  Internal dialogue needs a fresh score every morning and to be shared with all the other pushers within our social circle whom we might choose to call friends. The reality is that pushers are criminals and hence we the junkies and the pushers are all, partners in crime.

I am going to make another premise here:

You are not your internal dialogue

This might seem mildly radical but it is true. If you can examine your internal dialogue from a detached view then, you are not it. In any case much of what you say to yourself is a pack of lies with which you have created your own mythos, your precious self image. The internal dialogue does not like to be challenged and is very defensive. Most conversation is shared internal dialogue and is mutually bolstering.

For the reader of a religious bent I have a simple question which points directly at the folly of internal dialogue; does God care about whether you are pretty, have a large cock, a nice car, a fashionable wardrobe or if you achieve the national average of extended multiple orgasms each week? Is Buddha all that interested? I suspect not. Viewed from this angle the contents of most internal dialogue are “chitta” which is onomatopoeic and exactly like the sound of birds in a nest. If you were about to die, would you really be bothering as to whether Mr Jones’ new Audi looked better than your Volkswagen?

Perhaps as a beginning it might help to look at the interaction between internal dialogue and fear, which is the very basis of the corrupt and manipulative insurance industry. This plays directly on the fear of losing possessions, accidents etc. and is a part of the fabric of the blame culture which abounds today. If you are stupid enough to trip over a paving stone is it really the fault of the council for putting it there? I don’t think so. Deep down everyone knows this, but the litigious “victim” can these days seek recompense. “I didn’t deserve to trip up…”

The fear of litigation is a product of the internal dialogue which supports the blame culture. It is always someone else’s fault!! If you had not been stuck up in your mind, within the circles of your internal dialogue, you might have been sufficiently wide awake to look where you are going.

In what way does the chitta in the mind reinforce all your fears, how does it limit you and above all does it make you at ease and happy? The internal dialogue is one of humanity’s major diseases and my prescription is first of all to become aware of your own internal dialogue and then simply to stop doing it.

If you must have internal dialogue then your mantra might be; “I am a Magical Being of the Universe”. Try this and as the saying goes; “Trust me I am a Doctor!”