Advayavada Study Plan – week 14

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 14 = week 1 of 13, second quarter] Advayavada Buddhism does not tell you what to do or believe, but invites us all to make the very best of our own lives by indeed attuning as best as possible with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction. The 13-week Advayavada Study Plan (ASP) is repeated four times a year for this lofty purpose, and the first preliminary subject is anicca (Pali) or anitya (Sanskrit), which means impermanent, changeable, unstable, transitory, and is traditionally considered the first of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs or marks or basic facts of being. The Buddhist aniccata or anityata doctrine teaches that impermanence or changeability is the most fundamental property of everything existing; it lies at the very heart of the interdependent origination and emptiness of all things (see next week), and evolution, progress and liberation would not be possible without it – karma is, in Advayavada Buddhism, this incessant universal process of interdependent origination of all things as it is undergone and experienced by sentient beings, our individual share of it being the everchanging knotlet of biopsychosocial (bps) events in which we are personally embedded.

Advayavada Study Plan – week 40

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 40] Anicca (Pali) or anitya (Sanskrit) means impermanent, changeable, unstable, transitory, and it is the first of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs or marks or basic facts of being. The Buddhist aniccata or anityata doctrine teaches that impermanence or changeability is the most fundamental property of everything existing; it lies at the very heart of the interdependent origination and emptiness of all things (see next week), and evolution, progress and liberation would not be possible without it – karma is, in Advayavada Buddhism, this incessant universal process of interdependent origination of all things as it is undergone and experienced by sentient beings, our individual share of it being the everchanging knotlet of biopsychosocial (bps) events in which we are personally embedded.

Advayavada Study Plan – week 27

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 27] Anicca (Pali) or anitya (Sanskrit) means impermanent, changeable, unstable, transitory. The Buddhist aniccata or anityata doctrine teaches that impermanence or changeability is the most fundamental property of everything existing; it lies at the very heart of the interdependent origination (and emptiness) of all things, and evolution, progress and liberation would not be possible without it – karma is, in Advayavada Buddhism, this incessant universal process of interdependent origination of all things as it experienced by sentient beings, our individual share of it being the everchanging knotlet of biopsychosocial (bps) events in which we are personally embedded. (from advayavada.org/#plan)

Advayavada Study Plan – week 18

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 18] In Secular Buddhism generally, firmly bearing in mind the impermanence and selflessness or emptiness of all things, the focus is on the correct interpretation and realization of the historical Buddha’s so-called ‘four noble truths’: 1) that of the ubiquity of existential suffering in the world, 2) that ignorant craving and attachment are the actual and immediate causes of such suffering, 3) that this suffering shall cease altogether when we deal with and overcome its causes, and 4) that the sure way to achieve this is by following the Noble Eightfold Path, which, in Advayavada Buddhism, is understood as an ongoing and fully autonomous, non-prescriptive, investigative and creative process of progressive insight, reflecting in human terms wondrous overall existence becoming over time in its manifest direction, this evolution or progress being, then, the fourth sign or mark or basic fact of being. (from advayavada.org/#plan)

The Idea of Progress (Sidney Pollard)

With the decline in the belief of supernatural sanctions, which began with the Enlightenment, it has, indeed, become much harder to find a firm resting place, a fixed point on which a moral system or a social objective greater than the individual can be built up. What is a crime from one point of view, is heroic self-sacrifice from another, and all the civic virtues of one system become persecuted vices over the border, where political power is built on a different class structure. In this ocean of restless waves there has emerged only one firm island outside the temporal and biased perspective of each separate interest: the continuous improvement, that is to say, the progress of humanity itself. It is a yardstick against which the separate contributions of men, of classes, and of theories, can be measured, and it can give moral reassurance to those who are well aware of the relativity of their convictions, but who yet require, psychologically, the assurance of a firmer morality. Conversely, without the conviction of progress, there is no alternative to an inevitable despair in reason and in a rational, scientific approach to society, and to the decline into a mythology of nihilism. (from The Idea of Progress, by Sidney Pollard, London 1968, p.180-181)

Advayavada Study Plan – week 18

Dear friends,

The purpose of Advayavada Buddhism is to become a true part of the whole.

Our quest is fully personalized: it is firmly based on what we increasingly know about ourselves and our world, and trusting our own intentions, feelings and conscience. Adherence to the familiar five precepts (not to kill, not to steal, sexual restraint, not to lie, and refraining from alcohol and drugs) and a well-considered understanding of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs of being and the Buddha’s four noble truths (which, this quarter, are the subjects of weeks 14 to 18) suffice to start off on this Path at any time.

Advayavada Buddhism does not tell you what to do or believe, but invites us all to make the very best of our own lives by indeed attuning as best as possible with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction. The Advayavada Study Plan (ASP) is repeated four times a year.

The purpose of the autonomous ASP is that we study (and debate in a local group, the family circle or with good friends) the meaning and implications of the weekly subject, not as a formal and impersonal intellectual exercise, but in the context of whatever we ourselves are presently doing or are concerned with, or about, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc.

(My own specific personal objective this quarter is to improve my understanding of the practice of meditation (dhyana in Sanskrit, jhana in Pali) whose purpose is to attain a deeper concentration of the mind (Samadhi in Sanskrit and Pali), but without becoming preoccupied, however, with a factually non-existent self (svabhava-shunyata, lit. self-nature emptiness, is a central notion in Madhyamaka philosophy) – what’s your specific objective this quarter?)

In week 14 we observed and studied the impermanence or changeability of all things, in week 15 we studied the selflessness and finitude of all things, in week 16 we observed the ubiquity of existential suffering in the world, in week 17 we continued to deepen our understanding that ignorant craving and attachment are the immediate causes of existential suffering, and to continue this 13-week action plan, in week 18 we again closely survey the Noble Eightfold Path that eliminates the immediate causes of existential suffering (the fourth noble truth of Buddhism) and attunes us as best as possible to overall existence advancing over time in its manifest direction (in Advayavada Buddhism, the fourth sign of being); in Dutch: het edele achtvoudige pad (de vierde waarheid van de Boeddha) en de vooruitgang (in het Advayavada-boeddhisme, het vierde kenmerk van het bestaan).

In Secular Buddhism generally, firmly bearing in mind the impermanence and selflessness of all composite things, the focus is on the correct interpretation and realization of the historical Buddha’s so-called ‘four noble truths’: 1) that of the ubiquity of existential suffering in the world, 2) that ignorant craving and attachment are the actual and immediate causes of such suffering, 3) that this suffering shall cease altogether when we deal with and overcome its causes, and 4) that the sure way to achieve this is by following the Noble Eightfold Path or Middle Way.

In Advayavada Buddhism, the Path is understood dynamically, as an ongoing and fully autonomous, non-prescriptive, investigative and creative process of progressive insight, reflecting in human terms wondrous overall existence becoming over time in its manifest direction. It is composed of (1) our very best (samma in Pali and samyak in Sanskrit) comprehension or insight, followed by (2) our very best resolution or determination, (3) our very best enunciation or definition (of our intention), (4) our very best disposition or attitude, (5) our very best implementation or realization, (6) our very best effort or commitment, (7) our very best observation, reflection or evaluation and self-correction, and (8) our very best meditation or concentration towards an increasingly real experience of Samadhi*, which brings us to (1) a yet better comprehension or insight, and so forth.

*Samadhi (Pali and Sanskrit): total or perfect concentration (of the mind, cf. enstasy); non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object; total absorption in the object of meditation; transcendence of the relationship between mind and object; merging of subject and object; to contemplate the world without any perception of objects; suspension of judgement; turiyatita; satori; bodhi; rigpa; realization of the sameness of the part and the whole, of the identity of form and emptiness, of samsara and nirvana, of the immediate and the ultimate; mystic oneness; perfect dynamic attunement with wondrous overall existence; oceanic feeling; wonder, awe, rapture; essential purity; deep love and compassion; awareness of our common ground and the innocence of sex.

Feel free to share these weekly ASP instalments.

Kind regards,
John Willemsens,
Advayavada Foundation.
@advayavada

More Questions and Answers

question You speak of progress but make little mention of evolution. Is the Fourth Sign of Being you speak of not evolution?

answer Evolution is an ontological fact and progress is an epistemological concept. What we say is that human beings experience as progress that which accords with the overall course of Nature, which includes, of course, the underlying fact of evolution. Because we experience the Noble Eightfold Path as progress, we know that it coincides with the course of Nature; in a way, Advayavada Buddhism is a or maybe the Buddhist face of the global evolutionary movement.

question Is Advayavada Buddhism, then, a kind of cosmodicie?

answer The cosmodicy meant by Caroline Rhys Davids when she coined the term in the early 20th century would imply that existence as such is ‘good’. This is not what we say. What we believe and teach is that what we human beings experience as good and wholesome, indeed as progress, is that which agrees with the otherwise neutral overall nature of existence. Good and bad are exclusively human concepts which you cannot apply to existence as a whole – the wood is completely silent and only sentient beings hear the falling tree!

The dharma of the part and the whole are the same

Firstly, we must agree that wondrous overall existence cannot, by definition, but be just right as it is and, secondly, that the objective of the Middle Way devoid of extremes, propounded by the Buddha as the correct existential attitude, must be to reconnect and reconcile us with existence as a whole – we can safely assume that the Buddha did not teach that there were two sets of rules at play, one for existence and one for its ‘by-product’ people! Therefore, because, in other words, the dharma of the part is not different from the Dharma of the whole, the Buddha’s Middle Way, in its dynamic Eightfold Path form, must be understood as an ongoing reflexion at the level of our personal lives of wondrous overall existence becoming over time. Now, as the Eightfold Path leads us towards better and better, it follows, inductively if you will, that, expressed purely in human terms, existence as a whole progresses over time as well. By the same logic, it also becomes quite clear that, inversely, we experience as good, right or wholesome, indeed as progress, those events which are in agreement with the overall pattern and direction of existence, that it is for this reason that they are experienced thus. (from http://www.advayavada.org/qanda.htm)

To become a true part of the whole

To realize what in Advayavada Buddhism we term ‘to become a true part of the whole’ one must follow the Eightfold Path. In Advayavada Buddhism the Path is interpreted dynamically as a fully autonomous process of progressive insight and, let us clarify further here, as strictly non-dual and non-comparative, this in the sense that it bears no reference at all to anything predetermined by others or oneself. A prescriptive method with preset demands and expectations is antithetical to all progress, both of the individual and the group to which he or she belongs. The Path is moreover not seen in Advayavada Buddhism as a means to become something in the future, but as the way to become as something rightaway in the herenow. It is seen as the way to become oneself herenow as existence interdependently becoming over time now in its overall right direction – it is by becoming herenow as the whole of existence as it is beyond our commonly limited and biased personal experience of it, that we free ourselves from suffering. Nirvana is when we experience our own existence as being completely in harmony with existence as a whole becoming over time, with natura naturans – Nirvana is, if you wish, the ultimate reconciliation with his or her Buddha-nature achievable by man.

Non-dual and life-affirming

Advayavada Buddhism is a non-dual and life-affirming philosophy and way of life that essentially proclaims that there is ‘no cloth apart from the threads, no threads apart from the cloth’. What perhaps strikes some people as an unsubstantiated article of faith is our assertion that progress is inherent in existence, but what Advayavada Buddhism in fact teaches in this respect is simply that we humans experience and identify as progress (pratipada, patipada) that which follows the otherwise indifferent direction in which wondrous overall existence advances over time. There is no doubt a parallel with religion here: the religious person will probably say that what he or she experiences as progress is that which is in agreement with God’s wishes and inner plan. There is also, maybe, a certain affinity with panentheism, which says that all is in God, ‘somewhat as if God were the entire ocean including the fish and we were the fish’.