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Buddha was not afraid. Next, Mara sent maidens. Buddha was not seduced. Then, Mara accused the Buddha of pride. So do greed, hatred, and delusion.

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Each emerges from, and is sustained by, ignorance. Ignorance of our true nature perpetuates the excessive and misdirected desires of self-preoccupation. He faced obstacles; he overcame them; he shows The Way to do the same. The Third Noble Truth announces a possible cure: nirvana. By becoming awake to the nature of suffering and its root in ignorance, it is possible, individually, to achieve joyful and creative equipoise amidst the samsaric absurd, and collectively, if gradually, to transform social absurdity into something approximating The Peaceable Kingdom: egalitarian, ecological, demilitarized, cooperative, compassionate, reverent, and festive, where all individuals have maximum opportunity for self-discovery and creative service.

The Eightfold Path is a Way to awakening, to nirvana. The eight steps on The Path are: Right thinking, speaking, intention, action, vocation, effort, concentration mindfulness , and meditation. In Buddhist discourse, Dharma is truth, the way to truth, and the teachings that point the way. Dharma has many meanings, including truth, reality, pattern, doctrine, duty, law, teaching, being, order, virtue, society, and holding. Dharma is roughly equivalent to the Chinese Tao. Buddhism, like Platonism, has often been misinterpreted as an other-worldly philosophy.

In fact, however, Plato and Buddha share a passion for virtue: the translation of wisdom into ethics. Buddha taught that compassion is the path to wisdom, and also the fruit of wisdom. For a bodhisattva , the meaning of life is learning and service. The journey from ignorance avidya to wisdom vidya, prajna, bodhi — from folly to freedom, from sleepwalking to awakening — is the journey from samsara to nirvana, then back again to be of service.

This is a world of illusion maya in Sanskrit and is divided from the world of truth the outside world, where real objects are illuminated by the natural light of the sun , and the philosopher journeys from the former to the latter, before returning to the cave or illusory world to help others find a path out. The Buddhist use of the term maya does not, however, mean that the world is illusion. It means that one who thinks what appears is all there is is in a state of illusion.

Just as Plato calls into question the firm division between cave and outside world in other dialogues and parts of the Republic , so too does Buddhist thought break down the firm division between illusion and reality, samsara and nirvana. One who thinks the world is not real is even dumber. Buddha drew a provisional distinction between samara and nirvana. But as Buddhism evolved, Mahayana Buddhism collapsed that distinction, emphasizing nirvana in samsara.

By this account, the journey from suffering to non-suffering is almost, but not quite, the journey from samsara to nirvana. Awakening is, existentially, nirvana in samsara.

1990 "Turning the Wheel of the Dharma" conference

This is because, metaphysically, samsara is in nirvana. We cross to the other shore only to find ourselves on the shore where we stood. A bodhisattva serves humanity by journeying from ignorance to wisdom, from samsara to nirvana, and then skillfully showing ultimate truth permeating provisional truth. The adventure to Equanimity — sattva, samadhi, upeksha — is Odyssean. Though the stormy voyage to satori leads at last to peace samadhi — even bliss ananda — one remains surrounded by The Samsaric Absurd.

To be a bodhisattva hero is to endure feeling all too often Sisyphean. Find out for yourself. Siddhartha departs the palace; achieves enlightenment; returns to community to begin his career as a teacher. He teaches the Four Noble Truths. He taught his first sermon — The Four Noble Truths — to his first five disciples. This small group was the beginning of the sangha — the Buddhist Community.

The sangha would grow; slowly for a while, then exponentially. He created monasticism. In India, monastics — bhikshus and bhikshunis , monks and nuns — would walk once a day to a nearby village or metropolis in humble pilgrimage for alms. Hindu tradition honored the opportunity to be of service to those on the spiritual path. A bhikshu or bhikshuni might, in return, offer a short dharma talk. When Buddhism spread to China, there was a Confucian ethic of self-reliance quite the opposite of Indian generosity.

Buddhist monks were forced to innovate. Monastic life included meditation, chanting, chores, study, debate, and the art of medicine. Buddhism spread throughout India and Asia largely because its practitioners were healers. They inquired about therapeutic skill. Where did the monk learn it? Who was the Buddha? What did he teach? Healing, then, would be his mission.

A second and equally popular example asserts the evolution of Buddhism from Theravada through Mahayana to Yogachara Chittamatra. Or, if you will: normal, hidden, and secret; or common, deeper, and profound. But many Buddhist practitioners found this too confusing. It resurrects language and logic as a viable but provisional approach to the Four Noble Truths, declaring their provisional profundity as pointing to ultimate ineffability. Each of these three traditions emphasizes different aspects of Buddhism and holds up a different ideal of enlightenment.

The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

Recalling the Zen of Buddha beneath the bodhi tree, we envision Shakyamuni deciding on three seeds at the heart of his teachings. Having achieved enlightenment, the pilgrim is called an arhat. That distinction was initially offered as a provisional, heuristic device. It stimulates the journey to awakening.

But Siddhartha knew that this provisional distinction could easily be reified into a sharp and dogmatic dualism, as if nirvanic freedom is somewhere else, and something other than what we are at the core of our being. Mahayana Buddhism adds the clarification that precludes that mistake. There is, of course, a difference in emphasis. Theravada emphasizes the wisdom-ideal of the arhat. Mahayana which includes Tantra and Zen emphasizes the compassion-ideal of the bodhisattva. But we must always keep in mind that for Buddhism as a whole, and right from the start, wisdom and compassion — prajna and karuna — are, in essence, two names for the same.

Nevertheless, the journey to enlightenment must still be made. Mentors and guidelines are helpful, but each individual must do the hard work alone. Mahayana thinking, often best expressed in Zen, is inherently paradoxical. It also says that our primary task in life is to become enlightened. This is a paradox, not a contradiction. The raft is the practice of overcoming the obstacles to awakening. But Mahayana says that individual enlightenment is not nearly enough. And to accomplish this, the enlightened sage must engage in the perpetual practice of compassion karuna. And this is precisely what the Buddha did.

Buddha was a bodhisattva. We may say, then, that Mahayana Buddhism has two, interrelated aspects. It collapses the distinction between samsara and nirvana, asserting that we are already enlightened even if, paradoxically, we must pursue that realization experientially. It also asserts that compassion is the path to wisdom, and the necessary fruit of wisdom, supplementing the arhat ideal with that of the bodhisattva. A bodhisattva — by definition a compassionate peace-maker — manifests wisdom by helping to establish institutions of social justice. Grounded in bodhichitta — the bodhisattva ideal of socially engaged compassion — Mahayana Buddhism divinizes Buddha; introduces a majestic pantheon of Buddhas and celestial Bodhisattvas; expands the universe into a multiverse; and says that we are already enlightened.

Wisdom is compassion with a smile. Mahayana includes Tibetan Buddhism and Zen. Madhyamaka is the lotus at the heart of the Mahayana Renaissance in Indian Buddhism, blooming in the first thousand years CE. After years of Theravada Buddhist influence, India, at the turn to the Common Era, blossomed into what was, perhaps, the most peaceful, prosperous, and creative culture the world has ever known, becoming The Jewel of Asia with the rise of Mahayana Buddhism and the socially interacting bodhisattva ideal.

New texts emerge, mostly in Sanskrit. Tantra is the diamond path to metamorphosis; the yogic alchemy of angelic transformation to mahasiddha. A mahasiddha is a Vajrayana Magus. Hermes Trismegistus. Shaman, healer, sage. Vajrayana flourished for the next years until the Muslim invasions beginning in the year For Buddhist monastic universities — the greatest gardens of learning the world has ever seen — those invasions launched years of nightmare. As historical footnote, we might observe a certain irony. The Muslims were so impressed by what they had destroyed, they were inspired to recreate Buddhist Gardens of Learning in Islamic mold, giving birth to Hagia Sophia and Andalusian Spain, thus sparking the European Renaissance with its own double culmination in Newtonian science and the French Revolution.

Also into Kashmir, Afghanistan, Bhutan. Beginning in the 7 th century, Buddhism crossed the Himalayas into Tibet, where the Tantric tradition in particular, built on a solid practice of Theravada and Mahayana, survived and grew. Tibetan Buddhism now nourishes the postmodern soul with treasures therapeutic and global. The demand to abandon illusions about our condition is a demand to abandon the conditions which require illusion.

Karl Marx. Society should exist for the sake of schools; not the other way around. This finds echo in Plato. A just society emerges from schools that are gardens of learning. Buddha, like Aristotle, was less concerned with the form of government than its consequence. Monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, or any combination thereof — its measure is benevolence: the social virtue it serves. Buddha gave advice to many kings. Buddha was an ecological and animal rights activist. He championed a thriving merchant class for stimulating a progressive marketplace of ideas. He undercut Hindu class, caste, and misogynous prejudice by allowing anyone, including women, into the Sangha.

Sangha members owned no more than a bowl and robe; perhaps also a blanket and staff. They were obliged to meditate, study, and debate. They had to learn the alchemy of medicine, and the art of healing. They balanced rules and reform by democratic consensus. They were invited to leave the community; go forth as ambassadors of the Dharma; learn by doing; serve the greater good of the greater whole.

He acutely realized that when people are mired in poverty and oppressed by hunger and want, they will find it hard to hold to a path of moral rectitude. The highest social virtue is awakening prajna — in mindfully compassionate body, speech and mind karuna. In Kantian terms: Wisdom without compassion is like concepts without percepts. The universe of interbeing. Our mutually interpenetrating influence in a unified field spiced with karmic effort and a common pedagogical project. Universal brother-sisterhood promotes heart-centered rationality. Heart-centered rationality points to the tension in detached action.

The Taoist name for detached action is wu-wei.

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Yet Lao Tzu, like Jesus and Buddha, was first and foremost a pacifist; and the doing of not-doing wei-wu-wei in no way implies indifference to injustice and suffering. Heart-centered rationality is pragmatic. We might say, in sum: 1 Buddha does not say life is suffering. He says the unenlightened life is suffering. Gandhi, what do you think of Western civilization? Toynbee, what will future historians say was the most important event of the twentieth century? Schumacher wrote a book of Buddhist economics: Small is Beautiful.

Without the inward anchor, endless craving for outward satisfaction turns humans into schizophrenics, inner frenzy manifesting as social violence. Beware the Samsaric Uroborus. The profit-driven Zeitgeist consumes itself. Making room for enthusiasmos. By teaching students to cultivate inner peace, we embark upon the path to world peace. The path of knowledge is fraught with peril, because knowledge is power. Abuse of power, abuse of language, cultivation of inequality and deceit — can tear the heart out of civilization, and frequently do. Manjushri is the Bodhisattva of Wisdom in Mahayana Buddhism.

Zen is relevant to justice, because no person should be allowed to a position of political authority without first showing that they can sit in quiet meditation for at least thirty minutes. After all, if they cannot control themselves, why should they be given power to control our destiny?

Stefan Schindler graduated with a B. Awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, he received his Ph. As Associate Professor in the Humanities Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston, he taught philosophy, psychology, education, and religion from to He lived in a Zen temple in Cambridge for a year; an echo of his three years in Japan as a child. I would argue that human life certainly has the potential to become precious, endowed with freedom and opportunity. But this is highly abstract.

In reality, human life is not treated as precious. Nor is there freedom and opportunity. As Buddhist scripture tells us, all that the Buddha teaches is for the sake of final nirvana or unconditionedness; which cannot be understood by beings who cling tenaciously to the conditioned. In the final analysis the Buddha was not a political animal trying to make an ideal, conditioned world. He wanted us to look within so we might discover the presence of the unconditioned nirvana.

This is certainly at odds with the modern world that works on the outside as if new buildings, roads, washing machines, smart phones and potable water will cause significant change in the human heart. Buddha might have wanted us to turn inward, but inward to what? Further, an inward turn surely has consequences to political life — what are they? Fascinating article, Dr.

I thank the three readers above for posting their comments. Kindly forgive my slight delay in responding. I shall now address, briefly, some of the issues raised. Dhammakayaram — You have a lovely name. Kindly let me know what it means. Which brings me to my first point.

So one could be pretty sure that it is a flower. But, if one asked a person 'Is this me'' he would say, 'No, it's you. We tend to think of 'me' as one thing, as a unity. When we examine what we think of as ourselves, we find it is made up of many different components: the various parts of the body, the different organs, and the different elements. There are so many of them, yet we have this feeling of a single thing, which is 'me. By contemplating this and working through it very thoroughly, we begin to see how this 'I' is really a composite. Once we have eliminated this incorrect way of thinking, the idea of an 'I' becomes easy to get rid of.

So, all of the desire rooted in thinking, 'I must be made happy' can be eliminated as well as all the aversion rooted in the idea of 'this difficulty must be eliminated. Once the negative karma ceases, suffering will no longer take place. This is why Buddha said that the root of suffering needs to be abandoned.

The first two noble truths may be summed up with two statements: One should be aware of and know what suffering is. One should give up the origin of suffering. To summarize, once we recognize what suffering really is, then we begin by removing its causes. We do this by stopping doing unvirtuous actions which create suffering. To stop these unvirtuous activities, we eliminate them at their root which is the disturbing emotions and various unhealthy attitudes. To eradicate the disturbing emotions we need to remove their heart, which is the belief in a self. If we do that, then we will eventually come to realize the wisdom of non-self.

By understanding the absence of a self, we no longer create the disturbing emotions and bad actions and brings an end to that whole process. This is highly possible to achieve; therefore there is the third noble truth, the truth of cessation. The very essence and nature of cessation is peace Tib. In fact, the peace we obtain from the cessation of everything unhealthy is the deepest happiness, bliss, and well-being. Its very nature is lasting in contrast to worldly happiness which is satisfying for a time, but then changes.

In contrast, this ultimate liberation and omniscience is a very deeply moving peace.

Buddha’s Political Philosophy

Within that peace all the powers of liberation and wisdom are developed. It is a very definitive release from both suffering and its effect is a definitive release from the disturbing emotions which are the cause of suffering. There are four main qualities of this truth of cessation. First, it is the cessation of suffering. Second, it is peace. Third, it is the deepest liberation and wisdom.

Fourth, it is a very definitive release from cyclic existence or samsara. Cessation is a product of practicing the path shown to us by the Most Perfect One, the Buddha. The actual nature of that path is the topic of the fourth noble truth, which is called the truth of the path because it describes the path that leads to liberation. The Fourth Noble Truth The fourth noble truth is called 'the truth of the path' because the path leads us to the ultimate goal. We do this step by step, stage by stage, progressively completing our journey.

The Buddha's teaching5 are called 'the dharma,' and the symbol of these teachings is the wheel that you see on the roofs of temples and monasteries as shown on the cover of this book. This is the symbol of the Enlightened One's teachings. For instance, if you go to Samye Ling, you will see on the roof of the temple the wheel of the dharma supported by two deer. Why a wheel' Wheels take you somewhere, and the dharma wheel is the path that takes us to the very best place along the finest road.

This wheel of the Buddha's teaching has eight spokes because the path that we follow as Buddhists has eight major aspects known as 'the eight-fold path of realized beings' or 'the noble eight-fold path. These eight aspects to the noble eight-fold path can be grouped into three areas: superior conduct, superior concentration, and superior wisdom which make up seven of the eight spokes with the eighth spoke, superior effort which is the quality that supports the other seven.

Superior effort is needed for achieving correct conduct, correct concentration, and the development of correct wisdom. Noble Eightfold Path a Superior Concentration 1. Correct Meditation. When we practice the dharma it is most important to stabilize our mind. We are human beings and we have this very precious human existence with the wonderful faculty of intelligence.

Using that intelligence we can, for instance, see our own thoughts, examine them, and analyze our thinking process so we can determine what are good thoughts and what are bad thoughts. If we look carefully at mind we can see that there are many more bad thoughts than good ones. The same is true with our feelings. We find that sometimes we are happy, sometimes we are sad, and sometimes we are worried, but if we look carefully we will probably find that the happier moments are rarer than those of suffering and worry.

To shift the balance so that our thoughts are more positive, and happier, we need to do something and this is where samadhi or meditative concentration comes in, because samadhi is the root for learning how to relax. When our mind is relaxed, we are happier and we are more joyous. The word 'samadhi' means 'profound absorption. With samadhi our work will go well and we will find more joy and pleasure in our worldly activities.

Of course, if we can use samadhi for dharma, then it will bring about really good results in our life. Some people may have been practicing dharma for some years and might feel they have achieved few results from the practice and think, 'Even after all these years that I have been meditating, there is not much to show for it. My mind is still not stable. No matter what time we can give to meditation, that time is very well-spent. Often if we do an hour of meditation it doesn't mean we did one hour of perfect samadhi. Rather it probably means we had a half hour engaged with a lot of thoughts and a half an hour of what we could call good sitting of which about 15 minutes of this was good samadhi.

So it is really important to learn how to meditate properly, so our time meditating is most fruitful. Correct Mindfulness. How do we achieve superior concentration' That is where the second factor of correct mindfulness is necessary. It is through mindfulness that we will be able to actually achieve samadhi. When we have mindfulness, we are very clear about what is happening in our meditation. Also between our meditation sessions we shouldn't lose the thread of meditation, so we should with mindfulness carry this power of the meditation into our daily life.

Our mindfulness needs to be very stable, it needs to be clear, and it needs to be the strongest mindfulness so that we can achieve the highest samadhi.

The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path

In the Moonbeams of Mahamudra by the great Takpo Tashi Namgyal it says, 'When one meditates one needs mindfulness which is clear and powerful. It needs to have the quality of clarity and at the same time it needs to be stable. For there to be a change in our post-meditation behaviour, we need to have mindfulness and awareness. Without this clarity of awareness and without the strength of mindfulness, we won't recognize the subtle thoughts that keep our samadhi from developing.

So with these subtle thoughts, we become accustomed to a very superficial kind of meditation that will keep us from progressing. Clear and strong mindfulness, however, will allow us to recognize the obstacle of these subtle thoughts. So, strong and clear mindfulness is very important.

Reading and studying in all sorts of Buddhist books will develop a certain kind of wisdom, but this wisdom is never advanced enough to lead us to enlightenment, or Buddhahood. So, wisdom received from books and contemplating these teachings is limited. To develop superior wisdom that will allow us to become enlightened can only be obtained through meditation.

So far we have discussed the excellent training that develops correct samadhi and correct mindfulness. Now we need the most excellent training to develop correct intention and correct view. Correct Intention. Through our meditation, the realization of the true nature of reality will develop. Actually in the meditation itself, when we have a direct awareness of reality, we may wonder, 'Is this it' Is this not it' ' We will have all sorts of subtle thoughts and we need to confirm the accurateness, the rightness of the meditation that we are achieving.

With time and with the right instruction we will gain confidence and come to know what in meditation is the finest, clearest, highest view of the true nature of phenomena. There will be confidence and conviction in our belief due to primordial wisdom Skt. The development of wisdom at this stage is called 'the very best philosophical view. These two together make the very best wisdom: one applies to the depth of meditation and the other to the postmeditation state. So we need to develop these and strive whole-heartedly to cultivate these two wisdoms.

Right View. There are many levels of the Buddha's teachings each which has its own way of describing what the highest view of reality is. There are the Theravada teachings, the Mahayana teachings, the Vajrayana teachings, and the Mahamudra teachings. Each Buddhist tradition has its own way of defining what is the highest view, and whichever view we hold we need to strive in developing the right view during the meditation and to develop right view during post-meditation experience.

But the training of meditation needs the support of right conduct. The importance of right conduct is not mainly for meditation but to the rest of our life, our interaction with the rest of the world. The importance of right conduct is illustrated by the fact that it has three aspects of its own. Whereas wisdom and meditation concern cultivating the finest understanding of our mind, right conduct concerns the actions of body and speech and our interrelation with other beings around us. It would be an error to think that the mind is the main thing to work on and what we do with our body and speech doesn't matter much.

What we do with our body and speech is very important and that is what the last three paths of the eight-fold path concern themselves. There are many, many ways of explaining right conduct, but the eight-fold path does it through correct speech, correct action, and correct livelihood. Correct Speech. Speech is very important to us. For instance, we can't see another person's mind so we judge and are judged by behavior and speech. Speech can also be very powerful. Whether we are addressing or 1, people, if the speech is good and beneficial then or 1, people will be benefited; but if the speech is harmful then it can hurt or people, which is much more than we can do physically.

So we need to have not just correct speech, but we must train in the very best speech so that when we speak, we know what our speech is doing. Is it harming' Is it benefiting' What techniques can we use to develop this most excellent speech' We can say prayers, such as, 'Great Vajradhara, Tilopa, Naropa, Gampopa' and we can recite mantras like Om Mani Pedme Hung. These prayers and mantras show us how to express thoughts which are most noble, which are completely beneficial, pure, and good. Part of our dharma practice is the study, the reciting of texts, prayers and mantras which brings about the very excellent training of the best of speech.

All of these activities sow the seeds for the good and right things in our mind which will afterwards become the basis for the expression of what will benefit ourselves and others. This is perhaps even more important today than it was in the past because we have such powerful means of communication. With the telephone we can contact people all over the world. With Internet and faxes the power of speech is really important, so there is even more reason to be mindful, aware, and careful of how we use this tremendous power of communication and speech.

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We should always be aware of its potential to either benefit or to harm others. So, training in correct speech is the first of the three paths of right conduct. Correct Action. In our busy lives, we need to do many different things and everything we do has a consequence to others and ourselves. So training to engage in the very best actions is to do what will not only bring benefit to oneself but to others.

So with an excellent motivation we do excellent actions which benefit ourself and others. We need to therefore analyze the quality of actions and to be able to discern between what is right and what is wrong. Correct Livelihood. Closely connected to right conduct is having a correct livelihood. Of course, livelihood means not just our job, but also all our main daily activities that we do to have food, clothes, a roof over our head and so on. Because we do this day after day and because it involves by its very nature our speech and our physical actions, we need to learn what is a correct and what is a negative livelihood that brings harm to others.

We need, of course, to give up anything that harms others and to adopt a livelihood that is beneficial either directly or indirectly for us and for others. Correct Effort. Let us go back to the first spoke of the wheel of dharma'samadhi'that comes through the second spoke of mindfulness. These qualities won't come by themselves unless there is the greatest effort applied to bring these qualities out. The next three spokes of wisdom, correct view, and correct thought won't just come about one day by themselves without a great deal of skillful, intelligent, hard work. Then the last three spokes of correct conduct, correct speech, and correct livelihood also need a great deal of effort for these values to come about.

So this eighth spoke, best effort or diligence, is a support for all the other spokes. We could say that there are two types of effort. In Tibetan the word for 'effort' tsultrim has the notion of joy and enthusiasm, while in English 'effort' has the notion of drudgery. So there are two kinds of effort.

One is a vacillating sort of effort in which we jump into something and then when it becomes more difficult we slack off and the other is a steady, constant sort of effort. The first kind is more with what we associate with 'enthusiasm' and the other is more stable and the very best support for the other seven spokes.

The Five Paths We can also divide the Buddhist path into five main stages because by traversing them we eventually reach our destination which is cessation of suffering. The Buddhist path can be analyzed through these stages called the five paths. The names of the five paths are the stage of accumulation, the stage of junction, the stage of insight, the stage of cultivation, and the stage of nonstudy. Properly speaking, the first four of these are the path with the fifth one being the fruition of the other four paths. The first path is called the 'path of accumulation' because we gather or accumulate a great wealth of many things.

This is the stage in which we try to gather all the positive factors which enable us to progress. We try to cultivate diligence, the good qualities, and the wisdom which penetrates more deeply into the meaning of things. We commit ourselves to accumulate all the various positive aspects of practice.

We gather the positive elements into our being while at the same time working in many different ways to remove all the unwanted elements from one'sour life. We also apply various techniques to eliminate the various blockages and obstacles which are holding us back. This is called the stage of accumulation because we engage in this manifold activity which gathers these new things into our life.

In ordinary life we are caught up in the level of worldliness. Even though we don't want to be, we are still operating on a level of cyclic existence Skt. They have a very strong habitual grip on our existence. We need to get rid of these disturbing emotions in order to find our way out of samsara. Of course, we want to find happiness and peace and we know it is possible. But even with the strongest will in the world, we cannot do it overnight. It is like trying to dye a large cloth that contains many oil stains on it. It requires a great deal of effort to change its color.

So, first of all, in order to achieve the good qualities, we need to work on creating all the different conditions which will make these qualities emerge. To develop the various insights of meditation and real wisdom, we need to develop great faith and confidence in the validity and usefulness of this wisdom.

source link Once we are convinced of its value, we need to change our habits so that we have the diligence to do all the things necessary to make insight and wisdom emerge. Therefore, there are many factors and conditions we must generate within our life to bring about our happiness. To remove all the unwholesome factors binding us in samsara, we must uproot belief in a solid self, eliminate the various disturbing emotions which hinder us, and bring together the many different conditions that make this trans-formation and purification possible.

We talk about accumulation because we are assembling all the different conditions that make this transformation possible. We won't be able to progress in a significant manner until we have gathered all these causes and conditions properly, completely and perfectly within ourselves. For that reason the purpose of this stage of accumulation is to complete all the necessary conditions by gathering them into our existence. Eventually, because of the complete gathering of favorable conditions, we will reach the third path which is the 'path of insight.

This insight is beyond the veil of delusion. Linking the path of accumulation and the path of insight is the second path of junction. Here our inner realization, the very way we perceive things, begins to link up with the truth of the actual nature of phenomena because we are gathering all the favorable circumstances that will eventually lead us to the actual insight itself. When we attain insight into the way things really are and this insight develops beyond the level of delusion and mistaken views, we realize that there is no self.

Once there is no longer a belief in self, there are no longer any root disturbing emotions of attachment, aggression, or ignorance associated with the false belief in a solid self. Once there are no longer any disturbing emotions, we do nothing unvirtuous and have no more suffering. Now, it is true that once we have that insight, all suffering is immediately removed, but in another way, that is not true. This is because the delusion of a self is a habit which has been built up for such a long time and is very, very hard to remove.

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For example, when we have realized that an unchanging self is a delusion fabricated by our mind, still when we hit our finger with a hammer, we experience pain. We still have the feeling, 'I am suffering' because there is an enduring built-up association of 'I' with the flesh of our body. Removal of that long established conditioning of self occurs through a long process of cultivating the truth of non-self. This is the fourth stage of the cultivation of insight. The fourth stage is called the path of cultivation gom lam in Tibetan.

The word gom is usually translated as 'meditation' but actually means 'to get used to something' or 'to accustom oneself. By becoming more and more familiar with the truth of phenomena, we can remove the very fine traces of disturbing emotions and the subconscious conditioning that still exist. Through gradual working on these, the goal of enlightenment will be attained.

Through the cultivation of insight we eventually reach the goal of the fifth path which is called 'the path of no more study. Once this is completed we have reached the highest state and there are no more new paths to traverse making this 'the path of no more study' or 'the path of no more practice.

One should make cessation of suffering manifest. One should establish the path thoroughly in one's being. We need to make the truth of cessation real, to manifest it in ourselves. We can't just make it manifest by wishing, hoping, or praying for it. We can't just pray to the three jewels the Buddha, dharma, and sangha for cessation and through their kindness they will just give it to us. The law of cause and effect, karma, makes that impossible. To attain the goal of cessation, we must be thoroughly established on the path and the path must be properly and thoroughly developed in ourselves.

One may wonder if the five paths overlap. Generally speaking, for nearly everyone, the stages of the path are consecutive and separate. Having finished the first stage, one progresses to the second stage and so on. Some texts such as the Abhidharma say that there are some individuals who can travel the paths simultaneously. But they are very exceptional persons; most persons need to complete one path at a time.

For instance, in the path of accumulation one can start on the work that is primarily associated with the path of junction, developing insight into the truth. The principle purpose for separating these two stages is to enumerate the positive factors one must gather to complete the path of accumulation and to distinguish them from the development of insight and the level of the path of junction.