Advayavada Study Plan – week 44

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 44] 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 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 (see last week, week 43); the third truth is that this suffering shall cease altogether when we deal with and overcome its causes (also week 43); and the fourth truth is that the sure way to achieve this is by following the Noble Eightfold Path. Now, 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; 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 is seen in Advayavada Buddhism as the obvious but nevertheless long overlooked fourth sign or mark or basic fact of being (caturtha lakshana).

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 a yet better comprehension or insight (1), and so forth.

Please take care of yourself and others and follow the official pandemic guidelines, particularly those concerning social distancing and where and when to use a mask! Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone and those interested can follow this weekly ASP on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org

Must-read PNAS article about COVID-19

Humans and viruses have been coevolving for millennia. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19) has been particularly successful in evading our evolved defenses. The outcome has been tragic—across the globe, millions have been sickened and hundreds of thousands have died. Moreover, the quarantine has radically changed the structure of our lives, with devastating social and economic consequences that are likely to unfold for years. An evolutionary perspective can help us understand the progression and consequences of the pandemic. Here, a diverse group of scientists, with expertise from evolutionary medicine to cultural evolution, provide insights about the pandemic and its aftermath. At the most granular level, we consider how viruses might affect social behavior, and how quarantine, ironically, could make us susceptible to other maladies, due to a lack of microbial exposure. At the psychological level, we describe the ways in which the pandemic can affect mating behavior, cooperation (or the lack thereof), and gender norms, and how we can use disgust to better activate native “behavioral immunity” to combat disease spread. At the cultural level, we describe shifting cultural norms and how we might harness them to better combat disease and the negative social consequences of the pandemic. These insights can be used to craft solutions to problems produced by the pandemic and to lay the groundwork for a scientific agenda to capture and understand what has become, in effect, a worldwide social experiment. See further https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/10/21/2009787117

Advayavada Study Plan – week 43

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 43] Non-liberated human beings are essentially prone to existential suffering (see last week, week 42) 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 40) and the selflessness and emptiness (and, therefore, the finitude) of all things and beings (see week 41).

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 of sentient existence, and is, above all, not seen as a permanent or inevitable feature of reality; it is, as explained, 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 feeling that, as they understand it, reality does not conform to their petty desires and mistaken expectations.

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 (caturtha lakshana). 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.

Please take care of yourself and others and follow the official pandemic guidelines, particularly those concerning social distancing and where and when to use a mask! Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone and those interested can follow this weekly ASP on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org

Advayavada Study Plan – week 42

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 42] 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, with the help 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 misguided and failing mankind. The purpose of this 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, social environment and circumstances, etc.

The 13-week ASP can conveniently be repeated four times a year and this week, week 42, the third preliminary subject of the ASP 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) and also the third of the three or, in Advayavada Buddhism, four signs or marks or basic facts of being (lakshana), the other three being the impermanence or changeability of everything (see week 40), the selflessness and emptiness of all things (see week 41), and evolution or, in human terms, progress (see next week, week 43).

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 of sentient existence, and 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 feeling that reality does not conform to their petty desires and mistaken expectations. The ubiquity and unremitting persistency of human distress, alienation and conflict is undeniably especially due to the very many everywhere in the world not being taught or not comprehending or simply disbelieving and often dogmatically denying the basically impermanent and finite nature of their individual existence.

This might be as good a place as any to mention again that for many people social drinking is a potential source of much future suffering. Bear in mind in this context the persistent irrational taboo of not admitting to alcohol abuse by ourselves or those close to us. Can one beat alcoholism? One can certainly fully neutralize alcohol addiction by stopping to drink alcoholic beverages altogether, one day at the time, with the help of (a) your GP, (b) a personal psychological coach or counsellor, and (c) by joining a reputable support group to help you develop the necessary emotional counterpunch. The ASP provides an appropriate overall training to overcome the harm caused by this costly and disruptive biopsychosocial (bps) disease. Please take care of yourself and others and follow the official pandemic guidelines, particularly those concerning social distancing and where and when to use a mask! Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone and those interested can follow this weekly ASP on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org

Advayavada Study Plan – week 41

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 41] 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, with the help 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 misguided and failing mankind. The purpose of this 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, social environment and circumstances, etc.

The 13-week ASP can conveniently be repeated four times a year and last week, week 40, the first preliminary subject of this fourth quarter was again 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); the Buddhist aniccata or anityata doctrine teaches that impermanence or changeability is the most fundamental property of everything existing.

The second preliminary subject of this fourth quarter 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) signs or marks or basic facts of being (lakshana). The Buddhist anatta or anatmata doctrine teaches that no immutable and immortal soul, spirit or self exists in the person, i.o.w. in the sense of a permanent, eternal, integral, and independent substance.

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, in fact, empty (shunya) of self-nature (svabhava). 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 one of the four signs or marks or basic facts of being (lakshana), the other three being the impermanence or changeability of everything (see last week, week 40), the ubiquity of existential suffering (see next week, week 42), and evolution or, in human terms, progress (see week 43). Please take care of yourself and others and follow the official pandemic guidelines, particularly those concerning social distancing and where and when to use a mask! Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone and those interested can follow this weekly ASP on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org

Advayavada Study Plan – a Summary

The Advayavada Study Plan (ASP) – a Summary – In the third quarter, we treated the preliminary subjects in weeks 27 to 31; in week 32 we honestly took stock of, and responsibility for, our personal situation at this time (first step on the Noble Eightfold Path); in week 33 we 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 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 privately put our decision and improved objective in writing as precisely as possible (third step); in week 35 we further developed our very best attitude to carry out our improved objective (fourth step); in week 36 we put our improved way of doing things into practice to the very best of our ability (fifth step); in week 37 we concentrated on mustering our very best effort and commitment to fulfil our improved objective (sixth step); 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: not to kill, not to steal, sexual restraint, not to lie, and refraining from alcohol and drugs (seventh step); and, to conclude the third quarter’s 13-week Advayavada Study Plan, throughout week 39, we continued to develop and deepen our very best meditation towards Samadhi and our awareness of Nirvana (last step on the Noble Eightfold Path)

Advayavada Study Plan – week 40

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 40] 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 misguided and failing mankind. The purpose of this 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, or affected by, such as our health, relationships, work, study, social environment and circumstances, 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 undertakings are those which are in agreement with and reflect 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 put our decision and improved objective in writing as precisely as possible (third step); in week 35 we further developed our very best attitude to carry out our improved objective (fourth step); in week 36 we put our improved way of doing things into practice to the very best of our ability (fifth step); in week 37 we concentrated on mustering our very best effort and commitment to fulfil our improved objective (sixth step); 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: not to kill, not to steal, sexual restraint, not to lie, and refraining from alcohol and drugs; and, to conclude the third quarter’s 13-week Advayavada Study Plan, throughout week 39, we continued to develop and deepen our very best meditation towards Samadhi and our awareness of Nirvana. This task was 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 laatste stap op het edele achtvoudige pad).

The 13-week ASP can conveniently be repeated four times a year and the first preliminary subject of this fourth quarter is again 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). 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 growth, progress and liberation would not be possible without it. Karma is, in Advayavada Buddhism, the incessant universal process of interdependent origination (pratitya-samutpada; all-conditionality) 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 challenging times).

Please take care of yourself and others and follow the official pandemic guidelines, particularly those concerning social distancing and where and when to use a mask! Feel free to share this post: the teachings are beneficial for anyone and those interested can follow this weekly ASP on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org

Advayavada Study Plan – week 39

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 39] 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 misguided and failing mankind. The purpose of this 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, or affected by, such as our health, relationships, work, study, social environment and circumstances, 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 undertakings are those which are in agreement with and reflect 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 put our decision and improved objective in writing as precisely as possible (third step); in week 35 we further developed our very best attitude to carry out our improved objective (fourth step); in week 36 we put our improved way of doing things into practice to the very best of our ability (fifth step); in week 37 we concentrated on mustering our very best effort and commitment to fulfil our improved objective (sixth step); 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: not to kill, not to steal, sexual restraint, not to lie, and refraining from alcohol and drugs; and, to conclude this third quarter’s 13-week Advayavada Study Plan, 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: 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 fourth 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 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: the teachings are beneficial for anyone and those interested can follow this weekly ASP on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org

Advayavada Study Plan – week 38

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 38] 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 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, or affected by, such as our health, relationships, work, study, social environment and circumstances, 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 undertakings are those which are in agreement with and reflect 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 put our decision and improved objective in writing as precisely as possible (third step); in week 35 we further developed our very best attitude to carry out our improved objective (fourth step); in week 36 we put our improved way of doing things into practice to the very best of our ability (fifth step); in week 37 we concentrated on mustering our very best effort and commitment to fulfil our improved objective (sixth step); and, to continue with this third quarter’s 13-week Advayavada Study Plan, 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: samma-sati (in Pali) or samyak-smriti (in Sanskrit); in Advayavada Buddhism’s personalized usage: our very best observation or reflection and self-correction; in Dutch: onze beste aandacht (de zevende stap op het edele achtvoudige pad).

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 Samadhi and our awareness of Nirvana. 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: the teachings are beneficial for anyone and those interested can follow this weekly ASP on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org

Advayavada Study Plan – week 37

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 37] 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 autonomous Advayavada Study Plan (ASP), which is repeated four times a year, 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, or affected by, such as our health, relationships, work, study, environment and circumstances, 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 (second step), in week 34 we again put our decision and improved objective in writing as precisely as possible (third step), in week 35 we further developed our very best attitude to carry out our improved objective (fourth step), in week 36 we implemented our improved way of doing things (fifth step), and, to continue with this third quarter’s 13-week Advayavada Study Plan, this week, week 37, we shall again concentrate on mustering our very best effort and commitment to fulfil our improved objective. This task is based on the sixth step on the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path: samma-vayama (in Pali) or samyag-vyayama (in Sanskrit); in Advayavada Buddhism’s personalized usage: our very best effort and commitment; in Dutch: onze beste inspanning (de zesde stap op het edele achtvoudige pad).

Importantly, as we advance properly along the Buddha’s Middle Way responding to his promise of Nirvana, we shall at the same time be ridding ourselves of the so-called ten fetters (dasa-samyojana) that restrict us to samsaric life: 1) belief in the self, 2) scepticism regarding the Path, 3) attachment to rituals, 4) partiality for certain things, 5) prejudice against certain things, 6) clinging to physical life, 7) hope of a hereafter, 8 ) conceit and pride, 9) intolerance and irritability, and 10) the last remnants of our ignorance of the true nature of reality. 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, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org