Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What is the Buddha's "Path"? (Dhammapada)

Acharya Buddharakkhita, Dhp XX, Maggavagga: The Path, Dhr. Seven (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly

Noble Eightfold Path
273. Of all the paths the Noble Eightfold Path is the best; of all the truths the Four Noble Truths are the best; of all things passionlessness is the best: of humans the Seeing One (the Buddha) is the best.
274. This is the only path; no other results in the purification of insight. Tread this path, and you will bewilder Mara [Death].
275. Walking upon this path one will make an end of all suffering. Having discovered how to pull out the thorn of lust/craving, I make known the path.
Buddhas point the way to freedom.
276. You yourselves must strive; the buddhas [supremely enlightened teachers] only point the way. Those meditative ones who tread the path are released from the bonds of Mara.
277. "All conditioned things are impermanent" -- when one sees this with wisdom (insight), one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
278. "All conditioned things are unsatisfactory" -- when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
279. "All things are impersonal (not-self)" -- when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification.
  • These are the Three Marks, which are also called the Three Characteristics of All Conditioned Existence. They are true of all phenomena, which arise, turn, and fall away and so are radically impermanent at every moment. They are utterly incapable for providing lasting satisfaction. And, most difficult to comprehend, they are utterly impersonal, without self, neither the parts or property or constituents of a self.
The Path of Purification (Buddhaghosa)
280. Idlers who do not exert themselves when they should, who though young and strong are full of sloth, with a mind full of vain thoughts -- such indolent one do not find the path to wisdom.
281. Let one be watchful of speech, well controlled in mind, and not commit unskillful deeds in bodily actions. Let one purify these three courses of action [body, speech, mind] and win the path made known by the Great Sage.
282. Wisdom springs from meditation; without meditation wisdom wanes. Having known these two paths of progress and decline, let one so conduct oneself that one's wisdom may increase.
283. Cut down the forest (lust), but not the tree; from the forest springs fear. Having cut down the forest and the underbrush (desire), be passionless, O meditators!
  • (V. 283) Meaning: "Cut down the forest of lust, but do not mortify the body."
284. For so long as the underbrush of desire, even the most subtle, of one partner towards another is not cut down, one's mind is in bondage, like the sucking calf to its mother.
285. Cut off your attachment in the manner of one who plucks with hand an autumn lotus. Cultivate only the path to peace, nirvana, as made known by the Exalted One.
286. "Here shall I live during the rains, there in winter and summer" -- thus thinks the fool. One does not realize the danger (that death will eventually intervene).
287. As a great flood carries away a sleeping village, so death seizes and carries away the person with mind/heart clinging, doting on children and wealth.
288. For one who is assailed by death there is no protection by kin. No one there are to save such a person -- neither children, nor parent, nor relatives.
289. Realizing this fact, let the wise person, restrained by virtue, hasten to clear the path leading to nirvana.

YOGA: poses are only 1/8th of the path

Patanjali (Wikipedia edit); Amber Larson, Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Finally, Fatso Griffin starts a yoga regimen...but does it while driving for Uber (Family Guy).
Yoga is an eightfold path that, like the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path, tries to formulate a path to liberation (moksha), but here it twists "liberation" to mean "rebirth with Brahma." This was later corrected or expanded to mean "merging with Brahman." Brahma is the God of the Brahmins, whereas Brahman is the ultimate reality, GOD, or Godhead (godhood). Sadly, the majority of Westerners think "Yoga" means postures, poses, and pretzel twists...and really cool pants. What are the Eight Limbs of Yoga trying to formulate a teaching as popular and effective as the Buddha's Path?
1. Yamas (rules)
Om is the universal sound
These are the ethical rules or moral imperatives. The five yamas listed by Patañjali in The Yoga Sūtras (2.30) are:
  1. Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): nonviolence, non-harming other living beings.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood.
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
  4. Brahmacārya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity, or sexual restraint.
  5. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness, non-grabbing, non-hoarding.
Patanjali, in Book 2, explains how and why each of the above self-restraints help in the personal growth of an individual. For example, in Verse II.35, Patanjali states that the virtue of nonviolence or non-injury to others (ahimsa) leads to the abandonment of enmity, a state that leads the yogi or yogini to the perfection of inner and outer amity with everyone, everything.

2. Niyama (obligations)
The second component of Patanjali's path, which includes virtuous habits, behaviors, and observances (the "dos"). Sadhana Pada Verse 32 lists the niyamas as:
  1. Śauca: purity, clearness of mind, speech, and body.
  2. Santoṣa: contentment, acceptance of others, acceptance of one's circumstances as they are in order to get past or change them, optimism for self.
  3. Tapas: persistence, perseverance, austerity.
  4. Svādhyāya: study of the Vedas, study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self's thoughts, speeches, and actions.
  5. Īśvarapraṇidhāna: contemplation of the Ishvara (GOD/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality).
As with the yamas, Patanjali explains how and why each of the above niyamas help in the personal growth of the individual. For example, in Verse II.42, Patanjali states that the virtue of contentment and acceptance of others as they are (santoṣa) leads to the state where inner sources of joy matter most, and the craving for external sources of pleasure ceases.

3. Āsana (postures)
Patanjali begins discussion of asana (आसन, posture) by defining it in Verse 46 of Book 2 as follows स्थिरसुखमासनम् ॥४६॥:
  • Translation 1: an asana is what is steady and pleasant.
  • Translation 2: motionless and agreeable form (of staying) is asana (yoga posture).
    Yoga Sutras II.46
Asana is thus a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable, and motionless. Patanjali does not list any specific asana, except the terse suggestion, a "posture one can hold with comfort and motionlessness."

Āraṇya translates Verse II.47 of The Yoga Sutras as, "asanas are perfected over time by relaxation of effort with meditation on the infinite"; this combination and practice stops the quivering of body. The posture that causes pain or restlessness is not a yogic posture. Other secondary texts studying Patanjali's sutra state that one requirement of correct posture is to keep breast, neck, and head erect (proper spinal posture).

Later yoga school scholars developed, described, and commented on numerous postures. Vyasa, for example, in his bhasya (commentary) on Patanjali's treatise suggests 12:
  1. Padmasana (lotus pose)
  2. Veerasana (heroic)
  3. Bhadrasana (decent)
  4. Swastikasana (the mystical sign)
  5. Dandasana (staff)
  6. Sopasrayasana (supported)
  7. Paryankasana (bedstead),
  8. Krauncha-nishadasana (seated heron)
  9. Hastanishadasana (seated elephant)
  10. Ushtranishadasana (seated camel)
  11. Samasansthanasana (evenly balanced)
  12. Sthirasukhasana (any motionless posture that is in accordance with one's pleasure).
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes the technique of 84 asanas, stating that four of these are most important:
  1. Padmasana (lotus)
  2. Bhadrasana (decent)
  3. Sinhasana (lion), and
  4. Siddhasana (accomplished).
The Gheranda Samhita discussed 32 asanas, while Svatmarama describes 15 asanas.
4. Prāṇāyāma (breath control)
Two Sanskrit words, prāṇa (प्राण breath) and āyāma (आयाम restraining, extending, stretching).

After a desired posture has been achieved, Verses II.49 through II.51 recommend the next limb of yoga, prāṇāyāma, which is the practice of consciously regulating breath (inhalation and exhalation).

This is done in several ways, inhaling and then suspending exhalation for a period, exhaling and then suspending inhalation for a period, slowing the inhalation and exhalation, consciously changing the time/length of breath (deep, short breathing).

5. Pratyāhāra (collectedness)
This is a combination of two Sanskrit words prati- (the prefix प्रति- "towards") and āhāra (आहार "bring near, fetch").

Pratyahara is fetching and bringing near one's awareness and one's thoughts to within. It is a process of withdrawing one's thoughts from external objects, things, person, situation. It is turning one's attention to one's true Self, one's inner world, experiencing and examining self.

It is a step of self extraction and abstraction. Pratyahara is not consciously closing one's eyes to the sensory world; it is consciously closing one's mind processes to the sensory world. Pratyahara empowers one to stop being controlled by the external world, fetch one's attention to seek self-knowledge, and experience the freedom innate in one's inner world.

Pratyahara marks the transition of yoga experience from first four limbs that perfect external forms to last three limbs that perfect inner state, from outside to inside, from outer sphere of body to inner sphere of spirit.

6. Dhāraṇā (concentration)
In Sanskrit (धारणा) this means concentration, introspective focus, and one-pointedness of mind. The root of word is dhṛ (धृ), which has a meaning of "to hold, maintain, keep."

Dharana as the sixth limb of yoga is holding one's mind onto a particular inner state, subject, or topic of one's mind. The mind (not sensory organ) is fixed on a mantra ["thought instrument"], or one's breath/navel/tip of tongue/any place, or an object one wants to observe, or a concept/idea in one's mind. Fixing the mind means one-pointed focus, without drifting of mind, and without discursively jumping from one topic to another.

7. Dhyāna (contemplation)
In Sanskrit (ध्यान) this literally means "contemplation, reflection" and "profound, abstract meditation."

Dhyana is contemplating, reflecting on whatever dharana has focused on. If in the sixth limb of yoga one focused on a personal deity, dhyana is its contemplation.

If the concentration was on one object, dhyana is non-judgmental, non-presumptuous observation of that object. If the focus were on a concept/idea, dhyana is contemplating that concept/idea in all its aspects, forms, and consequences. Dhyana is uninterrupted flow of awareness, train of thought, current of cognition.
Shiva dances with Shakti in the Himalayas (SS)
Dhyana is integrally related to dharana, one leads to other. Dharana is a state of mind, dhyana the process of mind. Dhyana is distinct from dharana in that the meditator becomes actively engaged with its focus.

Patanjali defines contemplation (dhyana) as the mind process, where the mind is fixed on something, and then there is "a course of uniform modification of knowledge."
Adi Shankara, in his commentary on The Yoga Sutras, distinguishes dhyana from dharana, by explaining dhyana as the yoga state when there is only the "stream of continuous thought about the object, uninterrupted by other thoughts of different kind for the same object."

Dharana, states Shankara, is focused on one object, but aware of its many aspects and ideas about the same object. Shankara gives the example of a yogin in a state of dharana on morning sun may be aware of its brilliance, color, and orbit; the yogin in a dhyana state contemplates the sun's orbit alone, for example, without being interrupted [distracted] by its color, brilliance, or other related ideas.

8. Samādhi (absorption)
In Sanskrit (समाधि) this literally means "putting together, joining, combining with, union, harmonious whole, [absorption]."

Samadhi is oneness with the subject of meditation. There is no distinction, during the eighth limb of yoga, between the actor of meditation, the act of meditation, and the subject of meditation.

Samadhi is that spiritual state when one's mind is so absorbed in whatever it is contemplating that the mind loses the sense of its own identity. The thinker, the thought process, and the thought fuse with the subject of thought. There is only oneness, samadhi. More

"Nineteen Eighty-Four" (Pacifica Radio audio)

George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four), KPFK.org (Pacifica Radio, 1975), Wisdom Quarterly

Huh? What? I don't read books. I'm, I'm illiterate. But I have the best words and tweets.
Pacifica's five stations (KPFA Berkeley, KPFK Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, WBAI New York, Washington DC, KPFT Houston) and streaming worldwide on the Internet on June 27, 2017 the day is being spent on a dramatic reading of the entire dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Pres. Trump can't read due to illiteracy, but he can listen to the radio in DC. "In a time of universal deceit," Mr. Trump, "telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

The "Treasures" (sutra)

Ven. Thanissaro (trans.) Ratana Sutra (Sn 2.1); edited and expanded by Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly; alternate translation: Ven. Piyadassi (sutra also appears at Khp 6)
The ancient Vedic swastika is still a mark of enlightenment in Asian iconography.
Whatever devas have gathered here -- upon the earth or in the sky -- may you all be happy and listen intently to what I say. Devas, be attentive. Show kindness toward human beings. Day and night they give offerings so, being heedful, protect them.

Whatever wealth -- here or beyond -- whatever marvelous treasure there may be in celestial spheres does not, for us, equal the Welcome One (the Buddha, the Tathagata, the Wayfarer). This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Buddha. By this truth may there be well-being.

The marvelous Deathless -- ending, dispassion (nirvana) -- discovered by the Shakyan Sage in meditation, there is nothing to equal that Dharma. This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Dharma. By this truth may there be well-being.
Treasured relics are stored away in stupas, ancient burial mounds from the Ukraine.
What the excellent Enlightened One extolled as pure and called the meditation [insight, coherence, samadhi] of unmediated knowing [direct realization] no equal to that meditation can be found. This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Dharma. By this truth may there be well-being.

The eight persons -- the four pairs [males and females] -- praised by those at peace [the fully enlightened], they are true disciples of the Well-Gone One and are worthy of offerings. What is given to them bears great karmic fruit. This, too, is an marvelous treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Those who -- devoted, firm-minded -- apply themselves to Gautama's instruction, on attaining the goal [of enlightenment and nirvana] plunge into the Deathless, freely enjoying the unequaled liberation they have gained. This, too, is an marvelous treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

An Indra pillar (tall hardwood post at the entrance of a village) planted in the earth that even the four winds cannot shake, that, I tell you, is like the noble [arya, enlightened] person, who -- having thoroughly comprehended the Four Noble Truths -- directly sees. This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Those who have seen clearly the noble truths well-taught by the one of deep wisdom -- regardless of what [later] might make them heedless -- will come to no eighth state of rebirth.
  • A stream-enterer is a person who has reached the first stage of enlightenment, who will be reborn at most seven more times with none of those birth occurring falling below the human plane.
This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

At the moment of attaining liberating insight, one abandons three things:
  1. identity-view [belief in an eternal self or identity]
  2. uncertainty [skeptical doubt]
  3. any attachment to [the view that rites and rituals or precepts and practices can themselves lead to enlightenment].
  • These three are the fetters (samyojanas) abandoned when one gains the first glimpse of nirvana at stream-entry (the moment when one enters the stream to full enlightenment).
One is completely released from the four states of deprivation [which are unfortunate states of rebirth that result from unskillful karma*].
  • *The Downfall (niraya) refers collectively to four states of deprivation: rebirth as an animal, hungry ghost, angry demon, or denizen of various hells/purgatories (naraka). In the Buddhist cosmology, none of these states is eternal but may last aeons (kalpas, which also has the meaning of "normal lifespan" rather than a literal aeon).
And such persons are now incapable of committing the six great wrongs.
  • Six great wrongs: matricide, patricide, murdering an arhat (a fully enlightened individual), wounding a buddha, causing a schism in the Monastic Community (Sangha), or taking anyone other than a buddha as one's foremost teacher.
This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Whatever unskillful deed one may do -- by body, speech, or mind -- one cannot conceal it: an incapability ascribed to one who has seen the Path. This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Like a forest grove with flowering tops during the first month in the heat of the summer, so is the foremost Dharma he taught, for the highest benefit, leading to nirvana [complete freedom, liberation from all further rebirth and suffering]. This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Buddha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Foremost, foremost-knowing, foremost-giving, foremost-bringing, unexcelled, he taught the foremost Dharma. This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Buddha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Ending the old, there is no new taking rebirth. Grown dispassionate toward any further becoming [rebirth, continued wandering on through the Wheel of Life and Death], minds/hearts, they -- freed of seed and desire for growth -- the wise now free go out like this flame. This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Whatever devas have gathered here -- upon the earth or in the sky -- let us honor the Buddha, the Tathagata esteemed by humans and devas. May there be well-being.

Whatever devas have gathered here -- upon the earth or in the sky -- let us honor the Dharma and the Tathagata [Wayfarer, Welcome One, Well-Gone One] esteemed by humans and devas. May there be well-being.

Whatever devas have gathered here -- upon the earth or in the sky -- let us honor the Sangha and the Tathagata esteemed by humans and devas. May there be well-being.

How to consume "the news" (comedy video)

Editors, Wisdom Quarterly; comedians Jimmy Dore, Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers, Jon Stewart Stephen Colbert; JenSorensen.com; Associated Press (AP.org); ThisModernWorld.com
"A Brief History of Liberal Demonization" (jensorensen.com)

The "news" is generally bad as it emanates from the mainstream media, which are bought and owned entirely by vested interests: military-industrial complex, Big Pharma (the pharmaceutical and medical appliance industry), arms dealers in the U.S. and Israel...

Most of the media is the propaganda arm of the Pentagon and the Department of War (euphemistically renamed the DOD or Dept. of "Defense"). This is due in large part to CIA efforts called Operation Mockingbird.

Mockingbird sent infiltrators into every media outlet of any significant size and it co-opted, bought, subverted, and/or infiltrated to distort stories in certain favorable directions. This is accomplished in many and varied ways. If, for example, you read the Associated Press (ap.org), do so with caution. Every story is slanted, re-interpreted, distorted, ignored or magnified out of all proportion.

DemocracyNow.org is a fairly good source.
This leaves the non-mainstream media and our treasured comedians. It may have started with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, but there have always been honest/non-PC stand ups hard at work bearing the brunt of condemnation. Now, thanks inadvertently to Trump posing as president of the United States, it has become mainstream to mock the POTUS as never before. 

Finally, the media is doing a part of its job it previously abdicated. National Public Radio (npr.org or "National Petroleum Radio") is sold out with great human interest pieces now and then but completely towing the line on larger national stories, which now keeps them well heeled thanks to many corporate sponsors and pending contributions. If they did not tow the line or give equal time to the radical right wing slant (as right as Fox), funding could be pulled. And when it comes to choosing radical politics or a steady stream of income, it's not even close what gets chosen.
To consume the news, keep it light but deep: try Jimmy Dore, YouTube channels, late night TV, the moderate nominal left (aka MSNBC, RT, CNN, crickets chirping in the corner), the deplorable extreme right (Breit Bart, Fox, Alex Jones, ABC, NBC, CBS).

Realize that outlets like Apple, Huff Post, Yahoo!, Google, etc. are owned by massive multinational corporations that work hand in hand with clandestine government alphabet agencies (CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS, NSC, SS, DEA, BP, ICE, ATF, IRS...), which is probably why Google is owned by Alphabet Inc. (A New Company Called Alphabet Now Owns Google). It's a wink and a nod, and no one can say they don't have a sense of humor as they hide in plain sight.