Homeostasis (Damasio)

Both basic homeostasis (which is non-consciously guided) and sociocultural homeostasis (which is created and guided by reflective conscious minds) operate as curators of biological value. Basic and sociocultural varieties of homeostasis are separated by billions of years of evolution, and yet they promote the same goal – the survival of living organisms – albeit in different ecological niches. That goal is broadened, in the case of sociocultural homeostasis, to encompass the deliberate seeking of well-being. It goes without saying that the way in which human brains manage life requires both varieties of homeostasis in continuous interaction. But while the basic variety of homeostasis is an established inheritance, provided by everyone’s genome, the sociocultural variety is a somewhat fragile work in progress, responsible for much of human drama, folly, and hope. The interaction between the two kinds of homeostasis is not confined to each individual. There is growing evidence that, over multiple generations, cultural developments lead to changes in the genome. ~ Antonio Damasio, in Self Comes to Mind, p. 27, New York 2010. [Cambridge Dictionary: Homeostasis is the ability or tendency of a living organism, cell, or group to keep the conditions inside it the same despite any changes in the conditions around it, or this state of internal balance.]

Advayavada Study Plan – week 36

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 36] As already explained, 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 our personalized Noble Eightfold Path, with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction. Our reference standard is wondrous overall existence and not failing mankind. The purpose of this 13-week Advayavada Study Plan (ASP), which is repeated four times a 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, relationships, work, study, our environment and circumstances, etc. In weeks 27 to 31 we reappraised the preliminary subjects; in week 32 we again took stock of and responsibility for our personal situation at this time (first step on the Noble Eightfold Path); in week 33 we again took an appropriate and timely decision to adjust our course bearing in mind that commendable reforms and initiatives are those which are in agreement with and reflect wondrous overall existence advancing over time and take us forward at the fundamental level of our life (second step); in week 34, in order to lay a strong foundation for achieving our goal, we again privately put our decision and improved objective in writing as precisely as possible (third step); in week 35 we further cultivated and developed our very best attitude and commitment to improve our way of life as we aspire to (fourth step); and, to continue with this third quarter’s Advayavada Study Plan (ASP), this week, week 36, we shall implement our improved modus operandi as best as possible. This task is based on the 5th step on the Noble 8fold Path: samma-ajiva (in Pali) or samyag-ajiva (in Sanskrit); in Advayavada Buddhism’s personalized usage: our very best implementation, realization or putting into practice; in Dutch: onze beste uitvoering (vijfde stap op het edele achtvoudige pad). Please take care of yourself and others in these challenging times! Follow the official guidelines, particularly those concerning social distancing and where and when to use a mask! Feel free to share this post: those interested can follow this weekly ASP on a.o. advayavadabuddhism dot org

Lockdown (Stephen Batchelor)

Lockdown allows a breathing space to consider the tragic absurdity of our existence. By letting the chatter of our fears and anxieties subside, we can hear the inner silence of our soul. As we breathe more easily, we can re-examine our lives from a space of nonreactive awareness. Do we really want to be complicit in a consumerist lifestyle that is driving thousands of species to extinction? Do we wish to be part of an economic system that condemns millions of people to repetitive, meaningless work? Do we need even a fraction of the items we are daily encouraged to purchase, briefly enjoy, then discard? Do we like living in a world where a tiny minority control most of its resources and wealth, condemning millions to social exclusion and poverty? Do we want to contribute to making this planet uninhabitable each time we board another long flight to an overhyped tourist destination? If the answer to these questions is no, then we face the most challenging question of all: How are we to live together in this world? ~ Stephen Batchelor, in Tricycle Magazine.

Advayavada Study Plan – week 35

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 35] As already explained, 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 our personalized Noble Eightfold Path, with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction. The purpose of the autonomous Advayavada Study Plan (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, or affected by, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc. In weeks 27 to 31 we again treated the preliminary subjects; in week 32 we again honestly took stock of, and responsibility for, our personal situation at this time (first step on the Noble Eightfold Path); in week 33 we again took an appropriate and timely decision to adjust our course, bearing in mind that commendable initiatives are those which are in agreement with wondrous overall existence and take us forward at the fundamental level of our life (second step); in week 34, 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, to continue with this third quarter’s 13-week ASP, this week, week 35, we shall further cultivate and develop our very best attitude and commitment to be able to improve our way of life as we aspire. This task is based on the fourth step on the Noble Eightfold Path: samma-kammanta (in Pali) or samyak-karmanta (in Sanskrit); in Advayavada Buddhism’s fully personalized usage: our very best disposition or attitude; in Dutch: onze beste instelling (de vierde stap op het edele achtvoudige pad). To follow this ASP conscientiously is, of course, already proof of a serious and positive attitude. Please take care of yourself and others in these challenging times! Follow the official pandemic guidelines, particularly those concerning social distancing and where and when to use a mask! Feel free to share this post: interested parties can follow the weekly ASP on a.o. advayavadabuddhism dot org

Advayavada Study Plan – week 34

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 34] As already explained, 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 our personalized Noble Eightfold Path, with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction. In weeks 27 to 31 we again treated the preliminary subjects, in week 32 we again honestly reviewed and took stock of, and responsibility for, our personal situation at this time with respect to whatever we are presently doing or are concerned with, or about, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc. (first step on the Noble Eightfold Path); in week 33 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 life (second step), and, to continue with this third quarter’s 13-week Advayavada Study Plan, this week, in order to lay a strong foundation for achieving our goal, we shall again privately commit our decision and improved objective to paper as precisely as possible. This task is based on the third step on the Noble Eightfold Path: samma-vacha (in Pali) or samyag-vac (in Sanskrit), in Advayavada Buddhism’s fully personalized usage: our very best enunciation or definition of our intention; in Dutch: onze beste uitleg (de derde stap op het edele achtvoudige pad). Feel free to share this post. Please take care of yourself and others in these challenging times! Follow the official pandemic guidelines, particularly those concerning social distancing and where and when to use a mask!

Advayavada Study Plan – week 33

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 33] In Advayavada Buddhism, the Noble Eightfold Path is, as explained before, 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 (or four truths for the noble) suffice to start off and proceed on the Noble Eightfold Path at any time. When the Path is followed conscientiously, it becomes nothing less than the main karmic [and neuroplastic] factor in one’s life. The 13-week Advayavada Study Plan (ASP) is repeated four times a year for this lofty purpose: in weeks 27 to 31 we again treated the preliminary subjects, in week 32 we again honestly took stock of and responsibility for our personal situation at this time with respect to whatever we are presently doing or are concerned with, or about, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc. and, to continue with this third quarter’s ASP, this week we shall again take an appropriate and timely decision to adjust our course if necessary, bearing in mind that truly commendable initiatives are those which are in agreement with and reflect wondrous overall existence and take us forward at the fundamental level of our life. This task is based on the 2nd step on the Noble Eightfold Path: samma-sankappa (Pali) or samyak-samkalpa (Sanskrit), in Advayavada Buddhism: our very best resolution or determination; in Dutch: onze beste beslissing (de tweede stap op het edele achtvoudige pad). Feel free to share this post. Please take care of yourself and others in these challenging times! Follow the official pandemic guidelines, particularly those concerning social distancing and where and when to use a mask! https://www.facebook.com/groups/advayavadabuddhism/

Advayavada Study Plan – week 32

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 32] In Advayavada Buddhism, the Noble Eightfold Path is, as explained before, 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 (or four truths for the noble) suffice to start off and proceed on the Noble Eightfold Path at any time. When the Path is followed conscientiously, it becomes nothing less than the main karmic (and neuroplastic) factor in one’s life, i.e. in one’s fleeting share in the universal interdependent origination process (madhyamaka-pratityasamutpada) that brings forth wondrous overall existence. The 13-week Advayavada Study Plan (ASP) is repeated four times a year for this lofty purpose: in weeks 27 to 31 we therefore again treated the preliminary subjects and, to continue with this third quarter of 2020, this week we shall again honestly take stock of, and responsibility for, our personal situation at this time with respect to whatever we are presently doing or are concerned with, or about, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc. This task is based on the 1st step on the Noble Eightfold Path: samma-ditthi (Pali) or samyag-dristi (Sanskrit), in Advayavada Buddhism: our very best comprehension or insight; in Dutch: ons beste inzicht (de eerste stap op het edele achtvoudige pad). Feel free to share this post. Please take care of yourself and others in these challenging times! Follow the official pandemic guidelines, particularly those concerning social distancing and where and when to use a mask!

Advayavada Study Plan – week 31

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 31] In Secular Buddhism generally, firmly bearing in mind the impermanence and changeability of everything (see week 27) and the selflessness and emptiness (and, therefore, finitude) of all things and beings (see week 28), the focus is on the correct interpretation and realization of the historical Buddha’s so-called ‘four noble truths’ or ‘four truths for the noble’ (catur ariyasacca in Pali, catur aryasatya in Sanskrit). The first of these truths is that of the ubiquity of existential suffering in the world (see week 29); the second truth is that ignorant craving and attachment are the actual and immediate causes of such suffering (see last week, week 30); the third truth is that this suffering shall cease altogether when we deal with and overcome its causes (also week 30); and the fourth truth is that the sure way to achieve this is by following the Noble Eightfold Path. 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; this evolution or progress is seen in Advayavada Buddhism as the fourth sign or mark or basic fact of being. Our thus personalized Path (to be highlighted in the coming weeks) is composed stepwise 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. Feel free to share this post. Please take care of yourself and others in these challenging times! Follow the official pandemic guidelines, particularly those concerning social distancing and where and when to use a mask!

The Aim of Advayavada Buddhism

Advayavada Buddhism is a secular, non-dual and life-affirming philosophy and way of life derived from Nagarjuna’s Madhyamaka, or philosophy of the Middle Way. The most important tenet of Advayavada Buddhism is that there is a fourth sign (or mark) of being implicit in the Buddha’s teaching, namely that, expressed purely in terms of human perception and experience, reality is sequential and dynamic in the sense of forever advancing for the better; what human beings experience and identify as good, right or beneficial, indeed as progress, is, in fact, that which takes place in the otherwise indifferent direction that overall existence flows in of its own accord.

To understand this important tenet, one should first come to realize most deeply, for instance through meditation on the incontestable non-duality of the world, that not the human manifestation of life (i.e. its ongoing process of re-combination, mutation, concatenate multiplication and disintegration of the expended units, and its vicissitudes and perils, even possible extinction, self-inflicted or not) is the measure of things in space and time, but that it is the whole of infinite interdependent reality itself, which, hardly affected, if at all, by the negligible impact of mankind’s doings on the overall scheme of things, will continue to become exactly as it, by definition, must.

It then becomes very clear to us that the Middle Way taught by the Buddha as the correct existential attitude is not meant to in the least deviate from the Dharma of the whole; that the objective of the Middle Way is, in fact, to reconnect and reconcile us with wondrous overall existence; and that the Middle Way in its dynamic Noble Eightfold Path mode must indeed be seen as an ongoing reflexion at the level of our personal lives of wondrous overall existence becoming over time in its manifest direction. Now, as the Eightfold Path takes us forward for the better and better, it follows, inductively if you will, that, in human terms, existence as a whole becomes over time for the better and better as well. Inversely, we experience as good, right or wholesome those events which are in agreement with the overall otherwise indifferent pattern and direction of existence – it is for this reason that they are experienced thus; this fact is, indeed, the fourth sign or mark of being we speak of.

The purpose of Buddhism is then, obviously, not to shun life as many choose to believe, but, on the contrary, to return mankind to the fold of wondrous overall existence and to delight in it. Buddhism must be understood correctly as a ‘way of reconciliation’ with the whole of existence just right as it is, i.e. as it truly is beyond our commonly limited and biased personal experience of it. The aim of Advayavada Buddhism is to help us understand this main purpose of Buddhism more clearly and to give us individually the necessary tools to become a true part of the whole, here and now.

© advayavadabuddhism.org, Amsterdam 2020.

Advayavada Study Plan – week 30

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 30] Non-liberated human beings are essentially prone to existential suffering (see week 29) because they wrongly strive after and try to hold on to things, concepts and situations which they believe to be permanent, but are not. Their mistaken view of things is produced by a thirst, craving or clinging (tanha in Pali, trishna in Sanskrit) which is in turn caused by their fundamental ignorance (avijja in Pali, avidya in Sanskrit) or disbelief of the true nature of existence, particularly the impermanence and changeability of everything (see week 27) and the selflessness and emptiness (and, therefore, finitude) of all things and beings (see week 28). That thirst, craving or clinging, which is the second of the Buddha’s four noble truths or four truths for the noble ones (catur ariyasacca in Pali, catur aryasatya in Sanskrit), blinds them to the actual wonders and blessings of overall existence and can moreover easily take on a more unwholesome form: already as sensuous desire, ill-will (vyapada, also byapada), 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. Advayavada Buddhism, on its part, invites us all to instead intelligently make the very best of our own lives by attuning as best as possible with actual wondrous overall existence becoming over time now in its manifest direction; this evolution or progress is seen in Advayavada Buddhism as the fourth sign or mark or basic fact of being. We do this by adhering to the five basic precepts (not to kill, not to steal, sexual restraint, not to lie, and refraining from alcohol and drugs) and conscientiously following our personalized Noble Eightfold Path. Feel free to share this post. Please take care of yourself and others in these challenging times! Follow the official guidelines, particularly those concerning social distancing and where and when to use a mask!