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The Deathless

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 20 Feb 2023, 21:19

Went out for a walk in the rain. Felt like there was a horse race of thoughts going on in my head. I watched them patiently, and noticed how I felt as well, how the thoughts affect the body; and vice versa how the body affects the thoughts. I felt restless and agitated, anxiety was present in the mind, and I noted how unpleasant these feelings are. Suffering feels like this.

I observed that the cause of it was once again thoughts to do with greed, hatred, and delusion. I reflected on what is meant by delusion, and there was this Aha! moment and I suddenly saw that the root of all delusion is the conceit: I am. 

I noticed then that whenever I felt suffering present in the mind, thoughts about the self were also present. This mental construct we carry around with us like a heavy suitcase: the self. It is unpleasant, it is stressful, bossy as well, has all these wants and needs, and resentments, it is tiring having a self... and... how nice it feels when one puts it down like a heavy bag one has been carrying without realising. How pleasant it feels to stop identifying with things, to stop taking things personally, to stop longing, to stop feeling angry. How happy it is to forget the self. I think the happiest moments in my life are when I have forgotten the self. 

I then reflect there never actually was a self, it was all a mental construct, an illusion, when one looks closely at it, it can't stand up to the light of day. But the sense of self is still needed to function in the world, so I must use it like a tool to survive; but how nice it feels to not cling to it, to not identify with it anymore (-:

I think that's the reason for the dark night, to see the self for what it is which can be hard to see; but then it is liberating, when one sees how it is this clinging to this delusion of self that causes us suffering, and the realisation that one doesn't have to hold onto it, it is perfectly okay to let go of it, because it was never there in the first place. 

Nibanna (Nirvana) is an element that is always here, it always has been here, and always will be. Another name for it is 'the deathless' because unlike conditioned phenomena it is permanent, it never ceases, and it is unaffected by change. Another name for it is the unconditioned.

 The noble eightfold path is the training that frees the mind from greed, hatred, and delusion. Which then enables one to experience the deathless, nibanna.

The knowledge of nibanna disappears and gets forgotten in time though, and it can remain unknown for very long stretches of time. And then apparently it takes a Buddha, a Tathagatha to re-discover it and teach other beings how to experience it again.


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Asoka

Right view

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Edited by Richie Cuthbertson, Monday, 21 Mar 2022, 20:50


This is the first factor of the noble eightfold path in Buddhism.

There are two kinds of right view: mundane right view and supra-mundane right view.

Mundane right view is to understand that our actions good or bad give rise to our kamma (volitional cause and effect). The seeds we sow now become the fruit we harvest later. "We reap what we sow." 

Kamma can produce results either in this life or a future one. This is because some kamma can lay dormant until the right causes and conditions arise to awaken it and bring it to fruition. This is not so difficult to understand as it works similar to DNA. Each of us inherits DNA from our mother and father and although we inherit lots of DNA, not all of it is switched on, some of it is switched off and lies dormant within us, but if certain environmental conditions arise, then those dormant circuits can light up and the DNA becomes active, a similar thing can happen with our kamma.

The law of cause and effect (kamma) can get quite complex and one can get quite deep reflecting on the many different types of kamma. One's intention is the generator of kamma, from that comes spiritual kamma, material kamma, kamma that comes from our thoughts, our speech, our behaviour. Each volition yields a different result based on its kind. Of them all spiritual kamma is the most potent and beneficial, but is also the one most people are not drawn to, only a minority tend to be drawn to the spiritual life, especially within a society dominated by wrong view. 

There is a supernormal power one can develop whilst in deep states of Samhadi that allow one to see the kamma of other beings past, present and future, and can reveal things hidden from plain everyday sight. It is called the 'Divine eye' , but it is considered extraordinary and one needs to cultivate deep states of samhadi (meditation) to develop it, but if one is determined enough it can be done, and those who have developed it have used it as a tool to investigate the law of kamma for themselves. 

But mundane right view can be simplified and narrowed down to this rule of thumb: greed, hatred and delusion always yields negative kamma; and generosity, kindness, and clarity always yields good kamma. 

Supra-mundane right view is the four noble truths. 

The Four Noble Truths are:

1. Knowledge of suffering (which is to be understood).

2. Knowledge of the cause of suffering (which is to be abandoned).

3. Knowledge of the end of suffering (which is to be realised).

4. Knowledge of the path that leads to the end of suffering (which is to be developed).

The noble eight-fold path when practised correctly, under the guidance of an experienced Buddhist teacher if at all possible, puts in the right causes and condtions that once fully developed and brought to fruition yield the supramundane kamma of complete irreversible freedom from suffering, known as nibanna.

 A teacher is very helpful though, as the suttas passed down to us are a condensed version of the Buddha's teachings, chanted and sung to aid memory. A bit like a concise succinct summary which tends to only mean something to someone who has been studying the subject a while. The suttas without the guidance of a well-developed teacher can be difficult to understand. An experienced Buddhist teacher can unpack the suttas and reveal their meaning fully to those who are interested.

 By the way, that's all you need, a genuine sincere interest to be a disciple of a Buddhist teacher and some perseverance and some etiquette (which can be taught). Not money. The Buddha always shared the dhamma for free and so should any true teacher of the dhamma. If Buddhist teachers charge you for sharing their knowledge of the dhamma then be wary, as that is considered wrong view. If Buddhism becomes a paid for service then it just becomes a refuge for the wealthy, which goes against the spirit of the Buddha and his teachings. The dhamma should be freely available to everyone rich or poor.  

Of course there’s no judgement either if you are well off, and for those who have money to spare, it is good kamma to make a generous donation to your teacher for their time; but if like me you are too poor to do that don’t be hard on yourself or feel ashamed, there are many ways to give and practise generosity, it doesn’t have to just be financial, all forms of generosity yield good kamma. Remember as well that monks and nuns take a vow of poverty, and spiritual folks of the past would become homeless and live without money, surviving on the generosity of others, and this was seen as noble.

The right way to view someone in need, is to see that person as an opportunity to grow spiritually and produce good kamma for oneself by showing compassion and kindness to another. In the West we have wrong view in the way we look at those who are sick or live in poverty. We blame and shame them, even go as far as to despise them; but if we really understood the law of kamma we would go out of our way to help those people and show them compassion and kindness instead, as doing so will bring us good kamma both in this life and the next one to come.

Helping any being in need is a great opportunity for someone to generate good kamma for themselves. It also gladdens the mind when we show kindness to another; and is a blessing to reflect on our good deeds, which should be milked for all they’re worth, especially when we are sick or dying, as remembering the times we showed kindness to others brings some cheer to the mind and can be a great antidote to depression. 



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