Advayavada Study Plan – week 46 (2246) – samyak-samkalpa

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, relationships, work, study, physical and social environment and circumstances, etc.

In weeks 40 to 44 we again treated the preliminary subjects, in week 45 we again honestly took stock of and responsibility for our personal situation and expectations at this time (1st step on the Path) and, to continue with this fourth quarter’s ASP, this week, week 46, 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 advancing over time and take us forward at the fundamental level of our personal 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: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone (also non-Buddhists) and those interested can then follow this weekly ASP themselves on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org and/or by joining our research network on Facebook. Our earlier but recently updated website advayavada dot org contains comprehensive information about our secular, non-dual and life-affirming understanding of Buddhism and has a handy search box at the bottom of each page.

The savage Russian invasion of Ukraine, which of course flagrantly contravenes all that we stand for, continues to weigh heavily on our minds and hearts (see facebook dot com/advayavadastichting).

Advayavada Study Plan – week 45 (2245) – samyag-dristi

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, relationships, work, study, physical and social environment and circumstances, etc.

In weeks 40 to 44 we again treated the preliminary subjects and, to continue with this fourth quarter of 2022, this week, week 45, we shall again honestly and without foregone conclusions take stock of and responsibility for our personal situation and expectations at this time in our unstable and increasingly divided world. 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: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone (also non-Buddhists) and those interested can then follow this weekly ASP themselves on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org and/or by joining our research network on Facebook. Our earlier but recently updated website advayavada dot org contains comprehensive information about our secular, non-dual and life-affirming understanding of Buddhism and has a handy search box at the bottom of each page.

The savage Russian invasion of Ukraine, which of course flagrantly contravenes all that we stand for, continues to weigh heavily on our minds and hearts (see facebook dot com/advayavadastichting).

Advayavada Study Plan – week 44 (2244) – madhyamapratipada

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, relationships, work, study, physical and social environment and circumstances, etc.

In Secular Buddhism generally, firmly bearing in mind the impermanence and changeability of everything (see week 40) and the selflessness and emptiness (and, therefore, finitude) of all things and beings (see week 41), 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, as well as being the third of the three or, in Advayavada Buddhism, four signs or marks or basic facts of being (lakshanas), is that of the ubiquity of existential suffering in the world (see week 42); the second truth is that ignorant craving and attachment are the actual and immediate causes of such suffering and the third truth is that this suffering shall cease altogether when we deal with and overcome its causes (both week 43); the fourth truth (this week’s subject) is that the sure way to achieve this is by following the Noble Eightfold Path.

In Advayavada Buddhism, the Path is understood dynamically, i.e. as an ongoing and fully autonomous, non-prescriptive, investigative and creative process of personal progressive insight, reflecting in our own terms wondrous overall existence becoming over time in its manifest direction; our reference standard is wondrous overall existence becoming over time and not misguided and failing mankind, not ‘this shallow, short-sighted culture that we have created’ (Laudato Si), and that evolution or progress (pragati in Sanskrit) is recognized in Advayavada Buddhism, as explained earlier, as the fourth sign or mark or basic fact of being (the caturtha lakshana).

Our thus personalized Eightfold 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 a yet better comprehension or insight (1), and so forth.

Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone (also non-Buddhists) and those interested can then follow this weekly ASP themselves on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org and/or by joining our research network on Facebook. Our earlier but recently updated website advayavada dot org contains comprehensive information about our secular, non-dual and life-affirming understanding of Buddhism and has a handy search box at the bottom of each page.

The savage Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to weigh heavily on our minds and hearts.

Advayavada Study Plan – week 43 (2243) – caturtha lakshana

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 catuttha lakkhana in Pali and caturtha lakshana in Sanskrit (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 one’s life, i.e. in one’s fleeting share in the universal interdependent origination process (madhyamaka-pratityasamutpada) that brings forth wondrous overall existence.

In week 42, we again saw that non-liberated human beings are essentially prone to existential suffering 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 mainly 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 40) and the selflessness and emptiness, and therefore the finitude of all things and beings (see week 41).

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, laziness, impatience or distrust (panca nivaranani) 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.

On its part, however, Advayavada Buddhism reminds us all again this week to instead intelligently and logically 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, in human terms, our natural impulse or drive to thrive and advance, is understood in Advayavada Buddhism, as explained, as the fourth sign or mark or basic fact of being, the caturtha lakshana. We can seek to become and remain a true part of the wondrous whole 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 by conscientiously following the Noble Eightfold Path throughout our lifetime.

Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone (also non-Buddhists) and those interested can then follow this weekly ASP themselves on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org and/or by joining our research network on Facebook. Our earlier but recently updated website advayavada dot org contains comprehensive information about our secular, non-dual and life-affirming understanding of Buddhism and has a handy search box at the bottom of each page.

The savage Russian invasion of Ukraine, which of course flagrantly contravenes all that we stand for, continues to weigh heavily on our minds and hearts (see facebook dot com/advayavadastichting).

Advayavada Study Plan – week 42 (2242) – duhkhalakshana

The third preliminary subject of this fourth quarter of 2022 is again dukkha (Pali) or duhkha (Sanskrit), which means suffering, sorrow, dissatisfaction, frustration, anxiety, or stress; it is the first of the Buddha’s four noble truths or four truths for the noble ones, and also the third of the, in Advayavada Buddhism, four signs or marks or basic facts of being (duhkhalakshana), the other three being the impermanence or changeability of everything (anityalakshana, see week 40), the selflessness and emptiness of all things (anatmalakshana, see week 41), and evolution or progress (possibly pragatilakshana or simply caturtha lakshana, see next week, week 43).

The basic causes of suffering are known traditionally as the ‘three poisons’ (three kleshas): greed, ignorance and hatred, which are often represented as a rooster, a pig and a snake. In Advayavada Buddhism, dukkha or duhkha does not include, in the context of the four truths, emotional grief nor physical pain, which are part and parcel, if not necessary constituents, of sentient existence, and it is, above all, not seen as a permanent or inevitable feature of reality; it is chiefly understood as the existential distress and distrust of life non-liberated human beings are prone to and which are essentially caused by the unhealthy and socially infectious sentiment that reality does not conform to their petty desires and mistaken expectations. The ubiquity and unremitting persistency of human dissatisfaction and alienation is, in our view, particularly due to the very many everywhere not being taught or not comprehending or simply disbelieving and often dogmatically denying the basically interrelated, impermanent and finite nature of their short individual existence of about 4,000 weeks; note in this context the inevitable further ‘devaluation of actual life due to the malignant (Pinker) belief in an afterlife’.

This might again be as good a place as any to mention that for many people social drinking is a potential source of much future suffering. Bear in mind in this context most specially the persistent irrational taboo about admitting to alcohol abuse by ourselves or those close to us. Can one beat alcoholism? One can certainly fully neutralize alcohol addiction by ceasing to drink alcoholic beverages altogether, one day at the time, with the help of (a) our GP, (b) a personal psychological coach or counsellor, and (c) by joining a reputable support group to help us develop the necessary emotional counterpunch. This ASP provides an appropriate overall regular training to further help us undo the harm and trauma caused by this costly and disruptive biopsychosocial (bps) disease.

Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone (also non-Buddhists), and those who are interested can follow this weekly ASP themselves on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org and/or by joining our research network on Facebook.

The savage Russian invasion of Ukraine of course continues to weigh heavily on our minds and hearts (see facebook dot com/advayavadastichting).

Advayavada Study Plan – week 41 (2241) – anatmalakshana

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 (in Sanskrit lakshanas), suffice to start off and proceed on the Noble Eightfold Path at any time.

The second preliminary subject of this fourth quarter of 2022 is again this week, week 41, anatta (Pali) or anatman (Sanskrit), which literally means no-self and is traditionally considered the second of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) lakshanas, i.e. signs or marks or basic facts of being. The Buddhist anatta or anatmata doctrine teaches that no immutable and immortal soul, spirit or self exists ‘in the sense of a permanent, eternal, integral, and independent substance within an individual existent’.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the nissvabhava doctrine teaches further that, as all things without exception are produced by interdependent origination (pratityasamutpada, all-conditionality), indeed all are, therefore, in fact, empty (shunya) of self-nature (svabhava); thus the ego (pudgala), for instance, is ‘no more than a transitory and changeable empirical personality put together from the five aggregates (skandhas): form, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness’.

Svabhava-shunyata (lit. self-nature emptiness) is a central notion in Madhyamaka philosophy: in Advayavada Buddhism, the selflessness [and, therefore, finitude] of all things is, as stated above, the second of the four lakshanas, the first one being the anityalakshana, i.e. the impermanence or changeability of everything (as explained last week, week 40), and the following two are the ubiquity of existential suffering, the duhkhalakshana (see next week, week 42), and evolution or, in human terms, progress (in Sanskrit pragati, therefore pragatilakshana or caturtha lakshana; see week 43).

Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone (also non-Buddhists), and those who are interested can follow this weekly ASP themselves on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org and/or by joining our research network on Facebook. Our recently updated website advayavada dot org contains comprehensive information about the Advayavada understanding of Buddhism and has a handy search box at the bottom of each page.

The savage Russian invasion of Ukraine of course continues to weigh heavily on our minds and hearts (see facebook dot com/advayavadastichting).

Advayavada Study Plan – week 40 (2240) – anityalakshana

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.

The first preliminary subject of this fourth quarter of 2022 is again anicca (in Pali) or anitya (in Sanskrit), which means impermanent, changeable, unstable, transitory; it is traditionally considered the first of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs or marks or basic facts of being (lakshanas). 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 (pratityasamutpada) and emptiness of all things (shunyata, see next week), and growth, progress and liberation would not be possible without it.

Karma is, in Advayavada Buddhism, the aforementioned incessant universal process of the interdependent origination of all things as it is undergone and experienced by sentient beings, our own individual share of it being the unique and everchanging knotlet of biopsychosocial (bps) events in which we are personally embedded (i.e. in which we participate and are subject to, as is particularly evident in these very challenging times); these events include traditionally the consequences of one’s actions (the kamma niyama), the laws of heredity (the bija niyama), the environment (the utu niyama), the will of mind (the citta niyama) and ‘Nature’s tendency to perfect’ (the dhamma niyama).

Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone (also non-Buddhists), and those who are interested can follow this weekly ASP themselves on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org and/or by joining our research network on Facebook. Our recently updated website advayavada dot org contains comprehensive information about the Advayavada understanding of Buddhism and has a handy search box at the bottom of each page.

The savage Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to weigh heavily on our minds and hearts (see facebook dot com/advayavadastichting).

Advayavada Study Plan – week 39 (2239) – samyak-samadhi

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 (including climate change) and social and public health environment and circumstances, etc.

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 and expectations 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 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 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); in week 35 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 36, we implemented our improved modus operandi as best as possible (fifth step); in week 37 we again concentrated on mustering our very best effort and commitment to fulfil our improved course of action (sixth step); and in week 38 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 third quarter’s ASP, throughout this week, week 39, 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.

Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are, particularly in these challenging times, beneficial for anyone (also non-Buddhists), and those who are interested can follow this weekly ASP themselves on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org and/or by joining our research network on Facebook. Our recently updated website advayavada dot org contains comprehensive information about the Advayavada understanding of Buddhism and has a handy search box at the bottom of each page.

The savage Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to weigh heavily on our minds and hearts (see facebook dot com/advayavadastichting).

Advayavada Study Plan – week 38 (2238) – samyak-smriti

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, relationships and responsibilities, work, study, physical (including climate change) and social environment and circumstances, etc.

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 (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 [short-, medium- and long-term] 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 (e.g. in our pocket diary) as precisely as possible (third step); in week 35 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 quest to become a true part of the wondrous whole beyond flawed mankind (fourth step); in week 36 we implemented our improved modus operandi as best as possible (fifth step) and in week 37 we again concentrated on mustering our very best effort and commitment to fulfil our improved course of action (sixth step).

Now, to continue with this third quarter’s 13-week Advayavada Study Plan, during this week, week 38, we shall again make our best possible evaluation of our efforts to date, including the measure of our compliance with the familiar five basic precepts (not to kill, not to steal, sexual restraint, not to lie, and refraining from alcohol and drugs). This task is based on the seventh step on the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path: right mindfulness, samma-sati (in Pali) or samyak-smriti (in Sanskrit); in Advayavada Buddhism’s personalized usage: our very best observation or self-reflection and correction; in Dutch: onze beste aandacht (de zevende stap op het edele achtvoudige pad).

During next week, week 39, we shall take the last step in the current 13-week cycle: we shall then continue to develop our very best meditation towards the sublime state of Samadhi and our awareness of Nirvana (the eighth step on the Noble Eightfold Path).

Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone (also non-Buddhists) and those interested can follow this weekly ASP themselves on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org and/or by joining our research network on Facebook. Our earlier but recently updated website advayavada dot org contains comprehensive information about our secular, non-dual and life-affirming understanding of Buddhism and has a handy search box at the bottom of each page.

The savage Russian invasion of Ukraine of course continues to weigh heavily on our minds and hearts (see facebook dot com/advayavadastichting).

About the skandhas and rebirth in Advayavada Buddhism.

Traditional Buddhism presupposes that the human being is composed of some five skandhas or clusters of which, at death, the one physical rupa skandha disintegrates and dissolves completely and the non-physical arupa skandhas simply cease to occur altogether. And according to Advayavada Buddhism, there is further no human rebirth other than by sexual reproduction and the so-called new life that is produced in this manner is again, or yet, traditionally composed of some five khandhas or skandhas. Sexual reproduction is by definition a karmic activity. Karma is, in Advayavada Buddhism, how interdependent origination or pratityasamutpada operates here and now at the sentient level, including personal choices and responsibility. Karma is neither the cause nor the effect, but the everchanging knot of ongoing events as such. Our own share of this karma is the everchanging knotlet of biopsychosocial (bps) events in which we are personally embedded. In the case of human rebirth, the main event is the division or concatenate multiplication of the mother as a result of the fertilization of her egg or eggs by the father.

The main karmic activity is here, in other words, the wondrous event of physical love, pregnancy and parturation. The genetic and social factors transmitted to and inherited by the so-called new human being are all fully reflected at birth with minor changes or variations in its own set of skandhas. There are no so-called karmic seeds in the vijñana cluster that will ripen as yet in this or a future life, as is implied in the Yogacara vipaka theory – there is no evidence at all of an alaya-vijñana or store-house consciousness that might contain and carry such seeds forward into the future. Nor is there any evidence of a patisandhi-viññana, the connecting consciousness encountered in Theravada ontology, nor of any other form of re-incarnation, transmigration, or of afterlife or resurrection. Instead, everything is already there in the skandhas or clusters of the so-called new being produced sexually by the parents, geared and ready to grow into an adult human being. Modern scientific investigation in the field of genetics must yet supply many answers. The khandhas or skandhas theory is but a very rudimentary presupposition of the actual process of heredity and mutation. Biophysics must in fact yet uncover how exactly a living organism, indeed any biological system, can generate, copy and eventually transmit its data.

But we can safely state that from the moment of conception onwards everything that happens in the whole of existence, including, though not primarily, what this so-called new human being does or does not do itself, will affect it accordingly in its further life. This includes the mechanical action of switching on or off of a light: if somebody trips over a chair in the dark and breaks his or her neck, this is most certainly the result of how interdependent origination operates at the sentient level, the result of karma. This event will at the very least modify to a considerable extent the structure and relative arrangement of this particular conventional set of skandhas. Also his or her cetana (will or volition), which formally forms part of the human being’s samskara (forces) cluster, will no doubt be affected by the challenge in accordance with its intensity and the endurance the person can muster.

Karma, we must stress, is, in our view, pratityasamutpada or interdependent origination at our sentient level, including personal choices and responsibility – it is the immanent universal dynamic principle of existence as it also operates incessantly within the human being, in the relations between all sentient beings and in their interaction with the environment. Wholesome human activities are necessarily those which are in agreement with the overall otherwise indifferent pattern and direction of existence. It is, indeed, for this reason that they are experienced by us as such. You will no doubt agree that there cannot be two sets of rules at play, one for totality and one as devised by humankind itself for its own affairs only. ~ from advayavada dot org