[Advayavada Study Plan – a recap of the fourth quarter] 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), 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 the fourth quarter of 2020 we treated the preliminary subjects in weeks 40 to 44; in week 45 we honestly took stock of, and responsibility for, our personal situation at this time (first step on the Noble Eightfold Path); in week 46 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 47, 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 48 we further developed our very best attitude to carry out our improved objective, in our quest to become a true part of the wondrous whole (fourth step); in week 49 we put our improved way of doing things into practice to the very best of our ability (fifth step); in week 50 we concentrated on mustering our very best effort and commitment to fulfil our improved objective (sixth step); in week 51, 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 fourth quarter’s 13-week Advayavada Study Plan, throughout weeks 52 and 53, we continued to develop and deepen our very best meditation towards Samadhi and our awareness of Nirvana (last step on the Noble Eightfold Path).
As stated, this 13-week ASP can conveniently be repeated four times a year and the first preliminary subject of the first quarter of the new year will again be next week 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).
We wish to thank you all for following and sharing our ASP over the past months and years. The year 2020 has been a tough one and we must not lower our guard yet. Herd immunity must still be built up everywhere by means of world-wide vaccination. Continue to take good 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. 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 join our research network on Facebook. Happy New Year!