Author Topic: Early Buddhist Paths that Lead to Liberation  (Read 1636 times)

Offline Dharmakara

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Early Buddhist Paths that Lead to Liberation
« on: October 28, 2015, 09:06:13 am »
In the Buddhist practice awakening, or sambodhi (in pali), is the achievement of inner peace that sustains itself regardless of conditions beyond our control. In verse 154 of the great dhammapada, when the Buddha announces his awakening, he refers to lasting happiness as 'the unconditioned.'

Transcendence is a a state of witnessing as experiences unfold in a state of constant flux and upheaval without taking the universal events of life personally; we are all subject to the ravages of aging and sickness, the grief of separation from loved ones, financial instability, frustrations, loss.

Additionally, our peace of mind is sabotaged by our default settings: remaining constantly vigilant for threats even while we are perfectly safe, dwelling obsessively on negative experiences while overlooking the positive,, our predilection for addictive, short-term sensual pleasures (consumerism, escapist entertainment, meaningless hook ups and on). Alas, no matter how much we accumulate, we feel that underlying awareness that the sugary sweetness of sensory pleasures will end and we'll once again realize how exposed we are to inevitable losses and separation.

While the lures of money, objects, sex and privilege lose their luster, liberation through spiritual practice provides a complete form of happiness; awakening means becoming aware of a calmness and ease that doesn't require chasing fleeting sensual pleasures, all of which are too quickly found wanting. The lasting contentments of awakening can be maintained, as they are produced by that resources entirely within our control: the skill of focusing the mind, relinquishing unskillful thoughts and sustaining the proper attitudes of kindness, appreciation, equanimity, focus. In short, spiritual practice aims for a liberation from imprisonment, a freedom from seeking happiness in all the wrong places, a true peace in the sustainable and endlessly renewable.

Liberation: A cooler head
The etymology of the word nibbana (pali) is derived from the verb to extinguish or snuff out, for example using our breath to blow out a candle. Just as extinguishing a fire results in a cooling down, siitibhuuta in pali, the tranquil state achieved after quenching the devouring heat of greed, hatred, and self-righteousness, results in a 'cool head.' In using common words--such as nibbana and siitibhhutta-- the Buddha was purposely expressing to his followers that the liberating goal of spiritual practice is attainable, a real possibility not reserved solely for people in robes sitting in solitude in jungles or remote mountains. Hatred, greed, self-centered obsession are uncomfortable states in which to reside, we can be relieved of these conditions.

When we drop the idea of liberation being a place or lasting state, we can open to the possibility of incremental liberation. Rather than being trapped in comparing our states of ease to "complete liberation from all suffering" we can rest in states of ease as they arise, enjoying release without judging or criticizing it in absolute terms. In other words, liberation is available; it's an active state, a verb that requires a degree of effort, not a noun suggesting a place one arrives at; being freed from needless suffering requires continuous mental awareness; it requires discipline and practice to cultivate and maintain a state of contentment throughout the inevitable pains and frustrations of life. What follows is a list of some early Buddhist paths that lead to real and reliable serenity.

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Offline ZenFred

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Re: Early Buddhist Paths that Lead to Liberation
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2015, 06:19:20 pm »
Great article, the rest of it is very good too. This bit at the end is also very worth remembering.  "Whatever degree of liberation we seek or attain, seeking a soap box and bullhorn to persuade others is the surest sign we're nowhere near any liberation." It goes back to liberation being a verb not a noun.

I also loved how the author describes not taking things that happen personally. With my recent post on how to calm the mind and dealing with stressful situations, I've been thinking about this. One thing that I found helpful was remembering that if I know that my self, who I think I am, is an illusion, then other people aren't real either. What I mean is that all the narratives and values and judgements we mold into a self have no reality to them. So it is with everyone. And other peoples treatment and reactions to us is just a product of their imprisonment to delusion. In a greater sense, it is all part of samsara and the whole system of lies and cyclic suffering. As the matrix says, a prison for your mind. So in dealing with "difficult" people and in addressing my desire to be a people pleaser in general I need to let it all go. It has zero to do with Reality anyways.


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