[Advayavada Study Plan – week 14] 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 treated the preliminary subjects; in week 6 we 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 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 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 evaluate (seventh step) on of our efforts to date, including the measure of our compliance with the familiar five basic precepts; and, to conclude the first quarter’s 13-week Advayavada Study Plan, throughout week 13 we continued to develop and deepen our very best meditation towards Samadhi and our awareness of Nirvana (last step on the Noble Eightfold Path).
The first preliminary subject of this second quarter of 2021 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 (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, or indeed to become a true part of the whole, would not be possible without it.
Karma is, in Advayavada Buddhism, the above incessant universal process of interdependent origination (relativity, 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); 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, evolution, in human terms, progress (the dhamma niyama).
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.