[Advayavada Study Plan – week 49] 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 the meaning and implications of the weekly subject 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. In weeks 40 to 44 we reappraised the preliminary subjects, in week 45 we again took stock of and responsibility for our personal situation at this time (first step on the Noble Eightfold Path), in week 46 we again took an appropriate and timely decision to adjust our course bearing in mind that commendable undertakings 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 47, 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 48 we further cultivated and developed our very best attitude and commitment to continuously improve our way of life (fourth step), and, to continue with this fourth quarter’s 13-week Advayavada Study Plan (ASP), this week 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). Feel free to share this post.
[Advayavada Study Plan – week 48] 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 the meaning and implications of the weekly subject 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. 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 at this time (first step on the Noble Eightfold Path), in week 46 we again took an appropriate and timely decision to adjust our course bearing in mind that commendable undertakings 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 47, 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 fourth quarter’s 13-week ASP, this week we shall further cultivate and develop our very best attitude and commitment to continuously improve our way of life as indicated above. 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). Feel free to share this post.
[Advayavada Study Plan – week 44] In Secular Buddhism generally, firmly bearing in mind the impermanence of everything and the selflessness and emptiness of all things, the focus is on the correct interpretation and realization of the historical Buddha’s so-called ‘four noble truths’: 1) the truth of the ubiquity of existential suffering in the world, 2) the truth that ignorant craving and attachment are the actual and immediate causes of such suffering, 3) the truth that this suffering shall cease altogether when we deal with and overcome its causes, and 4) the truth that the sure way to achieve this is by following the Noble Eightfold Path, which, in Advayavada Buddhism, 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 being, then, the fourth sign or mark or basic fact of being. It 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.
[Advayavada Study Plan – week 40] Anicca (Pali) or anitya (Sanskrit) means impermanent, changeable, unstable, transitory, and it is the first of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs or marks or basic facts of being. 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 and emptiness of all things (see next week), and evolution, progress and liberation would not be possible without it – karma is, in Advayavada Buddhism, this incessant universal process of interdependent origination of all things as it is undergone and experienced by sentient beings, our individual share of it being the everchanging knotlet of biopsychosocial (bps) events in which we are personally embedded.
To realize what in Advayavada Buddhism we term ‘to become a true part of the whole’ one must quite simply follow the Eightfold Path. In Advayavada Buddhism, the Path is interpreted dynamically as a fully autonomous process of progressive insight and as strictly non-dual and non-comparative, this in the sense that it bears no reference at all to anything predetermined by others or oneself. A prescriptive method with preset demands and expectations is antithetical to all progress, both of the individual and the group to which he or she belongs. The Path is not seen in Advayavada Buddhism as a means to become something in the future, but as the way to become as something rightaway in the herenow. It is seen as the way to become oneself herenow as existence interdependently becoming over time now in its overall right direction – it is by becoming herenow as the whole of existence as it is beyond our commonly limited and biased personal experience of it, that we free ourselves from suffering. Nirvana is when we experience our own existence as being completely in harmony with existence as a whole becoming over time, with natura naturans. ~ @advayavada
question I wonder what your support for this interpretation of humans experiencing Nature as progress might be. There’s abundant evidence in media of various sorts — good, bad, or indifferent in quality — of people who contrarily do not experience the overall course of Nature as progressive at all, but instead as destructive and teleologically negative, especially today in conditions of global warming, cyclones, tornados, earthquakes, oceans rising, meteorites, and so on.
answer If you look closely, all those unpleasantnesses you mention do not pertain to overall existence at all but are the result of mistaken views, immorality and mismanagement. When we say how man experiences the course of Nature we of course mean man unencumbered by these contingent shortcomings and mistakes that impair his vision, understanding and accomplishments – the reference standard is overall existence and not failing mankind.
question I would agree with you that the objective of the Middle Way is to reconcile us with existence. Or to be more precise, it helps to understand life as it is. This is a condition for being to go forwards. However we are influenced by many things like greed, hatred and ignorance. These can take us backwards. The way to go forwards then is to develop the Eightfold Path. Or rather the Eightfold Path develops when there are conditions for its development. These conditions are the intellectual understanding of the Eightfold Path.
answer You are asked to accept the preeminence of existence over mankind, and that existence cannot, by definition, be anything but just right as it is, and that the Eightfold Path is an ongoing reflexion at the level of our personal lives of existence as a whole becoming over time. We must not see the Buddha’s Middle Way devoid of extremes as an attitude or method that will enable us e.g. ‘to escape from the realities of life’ or ‘to make it somehow in spite of things’, but we must understand the Buddha’s most fundamental teaching correctly as the means to reconnect and reconcile us with wondrous overall existence as a whole as it truly is. We must, in fact, accept that to live the way existence as a whole is, and not some idealized form of humanity, is what is to be sought after by men.
question I am not familiar with the term Advayavada.
answer 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: “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..” It is in this sense that we use the term ‘advayavada’.
question What you say seems to me to be an essential teaching of the Mahayana in its complete form. The Unborn Infinite Reality can never be less than Perfect and Whole, and is the True Essence of all Beings, and is ever present. All that is needed is that, in perfect simplicity, we turn to That, and realize that the human manifestation of life is just an imperfect reflexion of That. Simple! but not easy. That is the problem. If we realize what we are, how do we remember to continue to realize it moment by moment, rather than seeking to hold on to the vision of the past?
answer Everything is, indeed, as right as it can be, and the Middle Way devoid of extremes is a perfect reflexion of it at the human level. As for your question, our answer would be that you must see that ‘vision of the past’ for what it really is: a highly selective subjective recollection in the present of things no longer there – please understand that life only happens Now.
Pierre Bayle (1647-1706) on the rights of erroneous conscience (from Bayle vs. Spinoza on Toleration, by Edwin M. Curley, Mededelingen vanwege het Spinoza Huis #95, Voorschoten 2009)
[P]erhaps his most distinctive and interesting argument occurs quite late in the Commentaire [philosophique sur ces paroles de Jésus-Christ, constrains-les d’entrer], where he contends, in replying to an objection, that an erroneous conscience has the same rights as an enlightened conscience. Here’s a summary of this argument:
I. To say that your conscience judges an action to be good or evil is the same as saying that your conscience judges it to be pleasing or displeasing to God. (Volume II of Pierre Bayle, Ouvres diverses, ed. Elisabeth Labrousse [OD II], p.422b; Pierre Bayle, Ouvres diverses, ed. John Kilcullen and Chandran Kukathas [KK], p.220)
II. If a man’s conscience tells him that an action is evil and displeasing to God, and he nevertheless does it anyway, he acts with the intent of offending and disobeying God. (OD II, 422b-423a; KK, 220)
III.Whoever acts with the intent of offending and disobeying God necessarily sins.
IV. So, if a man’s conscience tells him that an action is evil and displeasing to God, and he nevertheless does it anyway, he necessarily sins. Or more succinctly: whatever is done against the dictates of conscience is a sin. (OD II, 422b; KK, 220)
Bayle recognizes that this argument will not be persuasive to an atheist, but that may not be a problem for his purposes. His primary opponents are Christians, who may not be troubled by the theistic aspects of his assumptions. I presume most Christians – and most theists in general – would readily grant that if you act with the intent of offending and disobeying God, you sin. The first premise of Bayle’s argument will be more controversial. As he formulates it, it requires a commitment to what we might call ‘analytic theological voluntarism’, the theory that the meaning of ethical terms is to be analyzed by using the concepts of what is or is not pleasing to God. Many Christian philosophers would grant that Plato’s Euthyphro showed that analysis of ethical language to be faulty. But perhaps there is a way of reformulating I [the first premise] which would avoid the commitment to voluntarism.
[Note: According to Advayavada Buddhism, 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 wondrous overall existence flows in of its own accord.]
To understand Advayavada Buddhism it is necessary to accept in the first place the preeminence of wondrous overall existence over mankind and that existence cannot, by definition, be anything but just right as it is. Secondly, that the objective of the Middle Way, being the correct existential attitude expounded by the Buddha, is the abandonment of all fixed views and to reconnect and reconcile us with wondrous overall existence – indeed, that in its dynamic Eightfold Path form, the Middle Way is an ongoing reflexion at the level of our personal lives of wondrous overall existence becoming over time. Now, as the Eightfold Path leads us towards better and better, it follows, inductively if you will, that, in human terms, existence as a whole becomes over time towards better and better as well. Inversely, we experience as good, right or wholesome those events which are in agreement with the overall indifferent pattern and direction of existence – it is for this reason that they are experienced thus. The reference standard, you see, is wondrous overall existence. It is not mankind, with its various civilizations and plagues, let alone, however well intentioned, our subjective sense of relative beauty.