Friday, June 15, 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

"[Siddartha Gotama, the future Buddha] had already mastered the meditation systems of two contemporary teachers and found that although they led to extremely refined states of consciousness, those states didn't last. Having ascended to higher planes, so to speak, a descent to the normal plane of consciousness is inevitable, with no resolution to the fundamental problem of being: that we experience ourselves as semi-, but not completely, separate from experiences. Therefore we can neither ultimately unite with what is pleasant, nor can we be totally divorced from what is unpleasant, nor can we give up the search for happiness in one of these untenable positions:

Association with the disliked is dukkha, separation from the liked
is dukkha, not attaining one's wishes is dukkha.

In an attempt to snuff out the whole pleasure-pain mechanism, Gotama resorted to ferocious austerities in the company of five ascetics at Uruvela. Nearly killing himself in the process, he eventually had to admit that asceticism was not the answer either. In that moment of recognition, he remembered the ease and peacefulness of a time when he had been sitting in the shade of a tree watching his father at a ploughing festival. Shaded from the blazing sun, with no particular inclination toward this or that, his mind had by itself settled into a state of calm. Might that gratuitous, unforced calm be the basis for enlightenment?
The world was benevolent on that day in another valuable respect. A local woman called Sujata made him an offering of milk-rice, which he ate. Although the other ascetics walked off in disgust, he now had the physical strength and well-being and the mental ease and detachment to collect his highly trained attention and direct it to the roots of the problem of life: the creation of a self that is both alienated from life and besieged by it. Resolving to remain in that very spot until he had discovered an answer, he took up a seated position...
On that night of Awakening, Siddhartha [saw] through the picture show of identity. In profound meditation, he had witnessed the long passage of his many births: now being this, now being that... and the road all those beings had travelled on... the self-perpetuating road of karma. What you do defines you; what you become determines how you see the world and yourself; how that world and self appears determines how you act. To reject the process, to think of getting off the road, is just another road, another becoming, another birth. Knowing there's no person on the road, that is Awakening.
The Buddha described his night of Awakening in different ways. One striking account was his recognition of all the forms of doubt and greed and worry as members of a demon host led by the personification of delusion, Mara. ... A meditator is quickly introduced to this host, and generally gets panicked or defensive, or gets into battle with them --all of which activities to defend the self merely affirm its existence. Therefore one is something --a sight, a sound, an idea, an opinion, a future, a belief: an identity. There is the source of all the longing and the quarrelling, which sustains the tenacity of the habitual reactions of the mind."
Ajahn Sucitto