Advayavada Study Plan – week 30

[Advayavada Study Plan – week 30] 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 the Noble Eightfold Path, with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction; we seek to become a true part of the whole in this way and our reference standard is wondrous overall existence and not misguided and failing mankind.

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 and of the, in Advayavada Buddhism, four signs or marks or basic facts of being (lakshanas), suffice to start off and proceed on the Noble Eightfold Path at any time.

Evolution or, in human terms, our natural impulse or drive to thrive and advance, is recognized, in Advayavada Buddhism, as the fourth sign of being or caturtha lakshana (cf. conatus). To follow the personalized Noble Eightfold Path is our way of responding to it and 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 in a calendar year, 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.

Non-liberated human beings are essentially prone to existential suffering (see last week, week 29) 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 27) and the selflessness and emptiness (and, therefore, the finitude) of all things and beings (see week 28).

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 (panca nivaranani).

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, in human terms, progress is understood in Advayavada Buddhism as the fourth sign or mark or basic fact of being (catuttha lakkhana in Pali, caturtha lakshana in Sanskrit, cf. conatus). We seek to become a true part of the wondrous whole 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 by conscientiously following our personalized Noble Eightfold Path.

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 – population immunity is a must. 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.

Advayavada Study Plan – week 17

Dear friends,

The purpose of Advayavada Buddhism is to become a true part of the whole.

Our quest 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) and a well-considered understanding of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs of being and the Buddha’s four noble truths (which, this quarter, are the subjects of weeks 14 to 18) suffice to start off on this Path at any time.

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 indeed attuning as best as possible with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction. The Advayavada Study Plan (ASP) is repeated four times a year.

The purpose of the autonomous 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, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc.

(My own specific personal objective this quarter is to improve my understanding of the practice of meditation (dhyana in Sanskrit, jhana in Pali) whose purpose is to attain a deeper concentration of the mind (Samadhi in Sanskrit and Pali), but without becoming preoccupied, however, with a factually non-existent self (svabhava-shunyata, lit. self-nature emptiness, is a central notion in Madhyamaka philosophy) – what’s your specific objective this quarter?)

In week 14 we observed and studied the impermanence or changeability of all things, in week 15 we studied the selflessness and finitude of all things, in week 16 we observed the ubiquity of existential suffering in the world, and to continue this 13-week action plan, in week 17 we shall continue to deepen our understanding that ignorant craving and attachment are the immediate causes of existential suffering (the second noble truth of Buddhism) and that this suffering shall cease altogether when we deal with and overcome its causes (the third noble truth); in Dutch: het hechten is de directe oorzaak van het lijden en door ons te onthechten verlossen wij ons daarvan (de tweede en de derde edele waarheid).

According to Advayavada Buddhism, it is indisputable that the Buddha did not believe in Brahman (God, transcendent and immutable Absolute) nor in the atta or atman (soul, immortal self, in Pali and Sanskrit) and taught that man ultimately suffers because he does not understand and accept that all things in life are instead utterly changeable and transitory; if the Buddha had ever expressed belief in Brahman and the atta or atman (as e.g. in Advaita-Vedanta), such a crucial fact would have been unequivocally recorded in History.

Man is prone to existential suffering (dukkha, duhkha) quite simply because he wrongly strives after and tries to hold on to things, concepts and situations which he believes to be permanent, but are not. His mistaken view of things is produced by a thirst, craving or clinging (called tanha in Pali and trishna in Sanskrit) which is in turn caused by his fundamental ignorance (avijja, avidya) of the true nature of reality, and this thirst, craving or clinging can moreover easily take on a more unwholesome form: already as sensuous desire, ill-will, laziness, impatience or distrust will it seriously hinder the individual’s efforts to better his or her circumstances, as well as affect the efforts of others to improve theirs.

Nirvana is, in Advayavada Buddhism, the total extinction of our existential suffering as a result of our complete reconciliation and harmonization with reality as it truly is beyond our commonly limited and biased personal experience of it; the unremitting persistency of human distress, alienation and conflict is essentially due to the very many not knowing or not understanding or simply disbelieving the true nature of existence.

Feel free to share these weekly ASP instalments.

Kind regards,
John Willemsens,
Advayavada Foundation.
@advayavada