[week 4] Man is prone to existential suffering (dukkha or duhkha) because he wrongly strives after and tries to hold on to things, concepts and situations which he believes to be permanent, but are not. His mistaken view of things is produced by a thirst, craving or clinging (tanha in Pali, trishna in Sanskrit) which is caused in turn by his fundamental ignorance (avijja in Pali, avidya in Sanskrit) or disbelief of the true nature of existence, i.e. its changeability and selflessness or emptiness. This is the second noble truth of Buddhism, and this thirst, craving or clinging can moreover easily take on a more unwholesome form: already as sensuous desire, ill-will, laziness, impatience or distrust will it seriously hinder the individual’s efforts to better his or her circumstances, as well as contaminate the efforts of others to improve theirs. (from advayavada.org/#plan)
[week 3] Dukkha (Pali) or duhkha (Sanskrit) means suffering, sorrow; dissatisfaction; frustration; stress; gnawing unease; and is the first of the four noble truths of Buddhism. In Advayavada Buddhism, dukkha or duhkha is more essentially the existential distress and distrust of life non-liberated human beings are prone to, does not include emotional grief nor physical pain and is, above all, not seen as a permanent feature of reality; it is rather understood as an existential suffering in the sense of a basic frustration, even suffocation, caused by the unhealthy and socially infectious feeling that reality does not conform to the person’s desires and expectations. The unremitting persistency of human distress, alienation and conflict is undeniably due to the very many everywhere not knowing or not understanding or simply disbelieving the true nature of existence; this makes it the third of the so-called three, in Advayavada Buddhism, four signs or marks or basic facts of being, the other three being the impermanence or changeability of everything, the selflessness of all existents, and evolution or, in human terms, progress. (from advayavada.org/#plan)
We gave the name Advayavada Buddhism to the radical non-dual standpoint of the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism to which we specifically adhere. A sound explanation of the term ‘advayavada’ can be found in for instance professor T.R.V. Murti’s The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, 1955, 1960, London 1968, p.217: “Advaya is purely an epistemological approach; the advaita is ontological. The sole concern of the Madhyamaka advaya-vada is the purification of the faculty of knowing. The primordial error consists in the intellect being infected by the inveterate tendency to view Reality as identity or difference, permanent or momentary, one or many etc. These views falsify reality, and the dialectic [of the Madhyamaka] administers a cathartic corrective. With the purification of the intellect, Intuition emerges; the Real is known as it is, as Tathata [advayata; non-dual suchness] or bhutakoti [reality-limit; the extreme limit beyond which there is nothing which can be known]. The emphasis is on the correct attitude of our knowing and not on the known.” It is in this sense that we use the term ‘advayavada’. (from advayavada.org/qanda.htm)
question You say that ‘man’s observance of the five fundamental precepts in his daily life gives him the moral strength required to embark upon the Buddha’s Middle Way…’ I think you’ve missed the point of the precepts. These are artificial, man-made rules. In actuality, humans can never fully abide by those rules. I personally think that’s why the Buddha enjoined his disciples to follow them. To vow to follow those precepts is to become a living koan. The symbol of the path to enlightenment is a flower, not a ledger of morality. Just ask Mahakashyapa. What is the morality of a flower?
answer Buddhism is a highly ethical teaching and way of life for human beings that is man-made in its entirety like any other. There is, in our view, no such thing as divine law – the golden rule is perfectly rational. Traditionally, to become a lay Buddhist one voluntarily takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, and undertakes to comply with at least the first five of the Buddhist precepts. The Five Precepts (pañca-sila, pancha-shila, pansil) are the minimum moral obligations a lay Buddhist freely takes upon him or herself. The precise interpretation of these precepts aside for the moment, it is universally agreed that people who wantonly kill, steal, maybe molest children, cheat and deceive, or enjoy getting drunk or stoned, need not do the effort to embark on the Buddha’s Middle Way until they have first cleaned up their act. Now, as for their exact interpretation, they comprise ‘not only minimal morality, but basic morality capable of many degrees of fulfillment’ (Winston L. King). Whether, for instance, the first precept also forbids meat-eating, whether the third precept forbids alternative sexual practices, or whether the fifth precept forbids all alcoholic beverages and drugs or just the getting intoxicated as some maintain, this is therefore as well our own responsibility. One must only not lose sight of the underlying reason for these fundamental voluntary precepts, which is to become moral individuals able, as such, to follow the Noble Eightfold Path to eliminate existential suffering, angst and regret from our lives.
This might be as good a place as any to warn that for many people social drinking is a potential source of much future suffering. Bear in mind in this context the persistent irrational taboo of not admitting to alcohol abuse by ourselves or those close to us. (cf. Nucleus accumbens [Nacc] research)
question How can one beat alcoholism?
answer One can certainly fully neutralize alcohol addiction by stopping to drink alcoholic beverages altogether, one day at the time, with the help of (a) your GP and (b) a personal psychological coach or counsellor, and (c) by joining a reputable support group to help you develop the necessary emotional counterpunch. The Noble Eightfold Path provides a very appropriate overall training to beat this costly and disruptive biopsychosocial (bps) disease. (from advayavada.org/qanda6.htm)
[week 2] Anatta (Pali) or anatman (Sanskrit) means no-self. The Buddhist anatta or anatmata doctrine teaches that no imperishable self exists in the person in the sense of a permanent, eternal, integral, and independent substance. In Mahayana Buddhism, the nissvabhava doctrine teaches further that in fact all things without exception are empty (shunya) of self-nature (svabhava); svabhava-shunyata (lit. self-nature emptiness) is a central notion in Madhyamaka philosophy. In Advayavada Buddhism, the selflessness of all existents is the second of the four signs or marks or basic facts of being, the other three being the impermanence or changeability of everything, the ubiquity of existential suffering, and evolution or, in human terms, progress. (from advayavada.org/#plan)
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)
[week 1] 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. Impermanence or changeability lies at the very heart of the interdependent origination (and emptiness) of all things, and progress and liberation would not be possible without it. In Advayavada Buddhism, karma is the incessant universal process of interdependent origination as it is experienced at the sentient level and our own share of it is the everchanging knotlet of biopsychosocial (bps) events in which we are personally embedded. (from advayavada.org/#plan)