[Advayavada Study Plan – week 13] 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 (or four truths for the noble), and of the four signs or marks or basic facts of being (in Advayavada Buddhism, evolution or, in human terms, progress, is the fourth sign or caturtha lakshana; cf. conatus), 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 purpose of this autonomous and open-ended 13-week Advayavada Study Plan (ASP), which can conveniently be repeated four times a year, is that we study and maybe 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, favourably and unfavourably, such as our health, relationships, study, work, social environment and circumstances, etc.
In weeks 1 to 5 we again treated the preliminary subjects; in week 6 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 7 we again took an appropriate and timely decision to adjust our course, bearing in mind that truly commendable individual 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 8, 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 9, 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 (fourth step), in week 10 we implemented our improved modus operandi as best as possible (fifth step), during week 11 we concentrated on mustering our very best effort and commitment to fulfil our improved objective (sixth step), in week 12 we again made 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;
and, to conclude this first quarter’s 13-week Advayavada Study Plan, throughout this week, week 13, 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: 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): literally 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.
Friends, this 13-week ASP is repeated four times a year and the first preliminary subject of the second quarter will again be anicca (Pali) or anitya (Sanskrit), which means impermanent, changeable, unstable, transitory, and is traditionally considered the first of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs or marks or basic facts of being (lakshana). Please take care of yourself and others by following the official pandemic guidelines, particularly those concerning hand washing, social distancing and where and when to use a mask! Please be supportive of the vaccination programmes as they are rolled out; beware of false information about the vaccines and of conspiracy theories generally. Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone 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 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.