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 were, this quarter, 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 in week 18 we surveyed the Noble Eightfold Path that eliminates the immediate causes of existential suffering, thus concluding the preliminary subjects.
In week 19 we honestly reviewed and took stock of our personal situation (first step), in week 20 we took an appropriate and timely decision to adjust our course (second step), in week 21 we again put our decision and objective in writing (third step), in week 22 we further developed our very best attitude to carry out our improved objective (fourth step), and, to continue this 13-week action plan, in week 23 we shall implement our improved way of doing things as best as possible.
This task is based on the fifth step on the Noble 8fold Path: samma-ajiva (in Pali) or samyag-ajiva (in Sanskrit); in Advayavada Buddhism’s usage: our very best implementation, realization or putting into practice; in Dutch: onze beste uitvoering (de vijfde stap op het edele achtvoudige pad). Bear in mind that truly commendable deeds are only those which are in agreement with wondrous overall existence and take us forward at the fundamental level of existence.
Other translations of the fifth step are: right purity (Arnold), right vocation (Burt, Watts), right livelihood (Bahm, Bodhi, Ch’en, Conze, Dhammananda, Dharmapala, Eliot, Fernando, Gethin, Harvey, Horner, Keown, Khemo, Kornfield, Malalasekera, Narada, Rahula, Rhys Davids, Saddhatissa, St Ruth, Stroup, Takakusu, Thich Nhat Hanh, Warder), appropriate livelihood (Batchelor), right living (David-Neel, Narasu, Nyanatiloka), right mode of life (Grimm), right life (Guenther, Melamed), right means of livelihood (Humphreys); proper way of earning one’s living (Edwardes); correct living (Kloppenborg), correct livelihood (Scheepers).
Nirvana is, in Advayavada Buddhism, the total extinction of our existential suffering as a result of our complete reconciliation and harmonization with reality as it truly is beyond our commonly limited and biased personal experience of it; the unremitting persistency of human distress, alienation and conflict is undeniably due to the very many not knowing or not understanding or simply disbelieving the true nature of existence.
Feel free to share these ASP instalments.