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 attuning as best as possible, by means of the Noble Eightfold Path, with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction; we seek to become a true part of the whole in this way and our reference standard is wondrous overall existence and not misguided and failing mankind.
In Advayavada Buddhism, the Noble Eightfold Path 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), a well-considered understanding of the Buddha’s four noble truths and of the, in Advayavada Buddhism, four signs or marks or basic facts of being (lakshanas), suffice to start off and proceed on the Noble Eightfold Path at any time.
Evolution or, in human terms, our natural impulse or drive to thrive and advance, is recognized in Advayavada Buddhism as the fourth sign of being or caturtha lakshana (cf. conatus, élan vital, homeostasis). To follow the personalized Noble Eightfold Path is our way of responding to it and, when the Path is followed conscientiously, it becomes nothing less than the main karmic (and neuroplastic) factor in our life, i.e. in our fleeting share in the universal interdependent origination process (madhyamaka-pratityasamutpada) that brings forth wondrous overall existence.
The purpose of this autonomous and open-ended 13-week Advayavada Study Plan (ASP), which can conveniently be repeated four times in a calendar year, 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, or affected by, such as our health and state of mind, relationships and responsibilities, work, study, as well as our physical and social environment and circumstances, etc.
In weeks 1 to 5 we again treated the preliminary subjects; in week 6 we again honestly reviewed and took stock of, and responsibility for, our personal situation and expectations at this time (first step on the Noble Eightfold Path); in week 7 we again took an appropriate and timely decision to adjust our course, bearing in mind that truly commendable initiatives are those which are in agreement with wondrous overall existence and take us forward at the fundamental level of our lives (second step); in week 8, in order to lay a strong foundation for achieving our goal, we again privately committed our decision and improved objective to paper as precisely as possible (third step); and in week 9 we further cultivated and developed our very best attitude and commitment to be able to improve our way of life as we aspire, in our personal quest to become a true part of the wondrous whole (fourth step); in week 10, we implemented our improved modus operandi as best as possible (fifth step); in week 11 we again concentrated on mustering our very best effort and commitment to fulfil our improved objective (sixth step); and in week 12, we again made our best possible evaluation of our efforts to date, including the measure of our compliance with the familiar five basic precepts (seventh step).
To conclude this first quarter’s ASP, throughout this week, week 13, we shall continue to develop and deepen our very best meditation towards Samadhi* and our awareness of Nirvana. This task is based on the last step on the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path: right concentration, samma-samadhi (in Pali) or samyak-samadhi (in Sanskrit); in Advayavada Buddhism’s personalized usage: our very best meditation or concentration towards samadhi; in Dutch: onze beste bezinning (de achtste stap op het edele achtvoudige pad).
*Samadhi (Pali and Sanskrit): means a.o. “putting together, joining, combining with, union, harmonious whole, trance” and “concentration of the thoughts, profound or abstract meditation, intense contemplation of any particular object” [Monier Williams], and consider further: perfect concentration (of the mind, enstasy); total absorption in the object of meditation; the merging of subject and object; realization of the sameness of the part and the whole, of the identity of body and mind, of form and emptiness, of emptiness and interdependence (all-conditionality), of Samsara and Nirvana, of phenomena and the Absolute, of the immediate and the ultimate; perfect attunement with wondrous overall existence advancing in its manifest direction; oceanic feeling; wonder, awe, rapture; essential purity; deep love and compassion; awareness of our common ground and the innocence of sex.
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