Matthew Gates 10m 2,447 #buddhism
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Enlightenment in Buddhism through Ultimate Truth of Emptiness and Nirvana
I have always been fascinated by Buddhism. The philosophy of Buddhism was easy to grasp and understand. Although it is considered a religion, it seemed like it was more than that, a way of thinking; a way of life; a way of understanding. The premise of Buddhism is simple: Escape suffering and discover ultimate happiness. Happiness, however, was not found in material things or money, but rather, in nothing.
The whole concept was alien and unnatural. How could anyone be happy with nothing? If we had everything, we would be happy, and we would experience no suffering, because we would have everything. Unfortunately, this was far from the truth, as the majority of people with a lot of money, though their happiness is temporary, hardly and rarely ever remain happy. They are always after the next best thing, always after what others have, and always after having more than others. They are always trying to fill some hole that can never seem to be filled, and thus, satisfaction is never found, and they spend their whole lives trying to fill a void that can never be filled.
Buddhism had discovered something that was everything. Everything was nothing. When you have nothing, you have everything. It sounds very twisted, doesn’t it? There are plenty of homeless people and poor people who are miserable. There are plenty of people who have nothing, and are not happy. So how could someone have nothing and still be happy? Buddhism had discovered that once you learned to have nothing and could live wanting nothing, you could truly live without suffering, and ultimately discover some form of happiness.
Someone who travels the world, with very little money and just a backpack, but figures out how to get by without stealing, without begging, but just making the best of what he has and what he can do, is a great example of having nothing.
Buddhism was created by a man, Siddhārtha Gautama, and not by a Holy figure. This man had no special powers, and in fact, he was born into royalty. He could have anything he ever dreamed of, any woman, and he was destined to be the king and ruler of his land. His parents protected him from the dangers of the world, only allowing him to be surrounded by mostly people his own age. He was prevented from seeing illness, sickness, misery, and death. If he wanted it, he could have it. Growing bored one night, Siddhārtha wandered out of the palace one night and stumbled across several sights that changed him forever.
There is always so much to learn, but understanding the philosophy of Buddhism can change anyone’s life. While anyone can adopt Buddhism into their own life, they do not have to change their religion. The idea is: “Live simply so that others may simply live.”
Buddhism is a lifestyle and way of life to practice living. Though no one is perfect, and even in our Western culture, we are immersed in materialism, there is still plenty things one can do to live more simply, eliminate most suffering from their life, and find happiness, not in material possessions or money, but in learning how to live with and want nothing.
This is the story and outline of Buddhism.
- The Buddha: The Awakened or Enlightened One
- Born into a wealth; son of a king; destined by an Oracle to be either a Great King or a Great Holy Man; protected by father in order to be fashioned into a King.
- Wandered out beyond the palace walls and came across four sights:
- Sick Man
- Old Man
- Discovery of Suffering: Causes & Elimination
- Lived and meditated as an ascetic and learned from two teachers
- His meditation was unable to lead him to the answer
- Went off by himself to meditate and came to the answer: The Middle Way or Middle Path (liberation / path to Wisdom)
Pali Tripitaka/Canon (Three Baskets – Instructions)
- Vinaya Pitaka: dealing with rules for monks and nun.
- Sutta Pitaka: discourses, mostly ascribed to the Buddha, but some to disciples.
- Abhidhamma Pitaka: variously described as philosophy, psychology, metaphysics etc.
The Four Noble Truths
- The Noble Truth of the Nature Of Suffering
- The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering
- Desire/Craving/Existence/Nonexistence/Sensual Pleasure
- The Noble Truth of the Cause of Suffering
- The Acknowledgement of Ignorance/Craving/Suffering
- The Noble Truth to the Eightfold Path of the Cessation of Suffering
- Right view/understanding
- Right intention/thought
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness/awareness
- Right consciousness/concentration
Understanding the Eightfold Path
- By right understanding that I am ignorant, only then can I form the right intention to change this, once I do this, I will begin to right speak of it and begin to do right actions because my actions speak louder than words.
- From my actions, this becomes my right livelihood and in order to continue doing this, I must put in the right effort, and in order to do this, I must have the right mindfulness/awareness and once I can perfect this, it will eventually become part of me and develop as my right consciousness/concentration.
- The Buddha: Enlightened/Awakened One
- The Dhamma (Dharma): The path and teachings of the Buddha.
- The Sangha: The community of Monks and Nuns who practice and spread the path of the Buddha.
Three Marks of Existence
Five Aggregates (Conditions of Duhka)
- Mental Formation
Twelve Conditioning Links (Interchangeable pattern)
- Ignorance < – > Death
- Mental Formations < – > Birth
- Consciousness < – > Becoming
- Mind & Body < – > Attachment
- Senses < – > Craving
- Contact < – > Sensation
- Sensation < – > Contact
- Craving < – > Senses
- Attachment < – > Mind & Body
- Becoming < – > Consciousness
- Birth < – > Mental Formations
- Death < – > Ignorance
- Mind (Consciousness)
- Body (Feel)
- Tongue (Taste)
- Nose (Smell)
- Ear (Hear)
- Eye (See)
- Contact -> Feeling -> Craving -> Clinging -> Becoming -> Life
- Everything that that comes into existence is suffering
- Cause of suffering is craving & ignorance
- There is a release from this suffering
- A negative condition is formed by the way people perceive the world negatively
- Based on logic, causality, motion, and self-hood
- Leads to suffering, pain, and anger
- Meaningful conceptualization of the world
- We produce a false idea of life which binds us to suffering
- Based on logic, perception, motion
- Everything that is, is because of the dependent causes
- My being is here because of others being
- Everything is dependent on everything else
- Everything is the way it is because of everything that came to be as it is
- Everything is how it is now because of everything before it
- Everything that is now is because of everything else that came to be now
- Everything is interconnected and related because it caused everything to be as it is
- Everything arises because of everything else
- Nothing is independent of itself
- Based on five aggregates: form, perception, feeling, mental formations, consciousness
- Language has developed our world
Ultimate Truth: Emptiness
- No identity, no self
- Perfection of Wisdom
- Psychological: Body & Mind -> Perception -> Sensation -> Consciousness -> Language
- Emptiness: “form is emptiness; emptiness is form”
- Emptiness itself is empty; it is empty of inherent existence.
- The Buddha taught the emptiness of emptiness
- Heart Sutra: there is no form, nor feeling, nor perception, nor impulse, nor consciousness; No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind; No forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touchables or objects of mind; No sight-organ element, and so forth, until we come to: No mind-consciousness element; There is no ignorance, no extinction of ignorance, and so forth, until we come to: there is no decay and death, no extinction of decay and death. There is no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path. There is no cognition, no attainment and non-attainment.
- Examples of Emptiness:
- A cup
- What is emptiness then?
- To understand the philosophical meaning of this term, let’s look at a simple solid object, such as a cup. How is a cup empty?
- We usually say that a cup is empty if it does not contain any liquid or solid.
- This is the ordinary meaning of emptiness. But, is the cup really empty?
- A cup empty of liquids or solids is still full of air.
- To be precise, we must therefore state what the cup is empty of. Can a cup be empty of all substance?
- A cup in a vacuum does not contain any air, but it still contains space, light, radiation, as well as its own substance.
- Hence, from a physical point of view, the cup is always full of something. Yet, from the Buddhist point of view, the cup is always empty.
- The Buddhist understanding of emptiness is different from the physical meaning.
- The cup being empty means that it is devoid of inherent existence.
- What is meant with non-inherent existence?
- Is this to say that the cup does not ultimately exist?
- Not quite.
- The cup exists, but like everything in this world, its existence depends on other phenomena.
- There is nothing in a cup that is inherent to that specific cup or to cups in general.
- Properties such as being hollow, spherical, cylindrical, or leak-proof are not intrinsic to cups.
- Other objects which are not cups have similar properties, as for example vases and glasses.
- The cup’s properties and components are neither cups themselves nor do they imply cupness on their own.
- The material is not the cup.
- The shape is not the cup.
- The function is not the cup.
- Only all these aspects together make up the cup.
- Hence, we can say that for an object to be a cup we require a collection of specific conditions to exist.
- It depends on the combination of function, use, shape, base material, and the cup’s other aspects.
- Only if all these conditions exist simultaneously does the mind impute cupness to the object.
- If one condition ceases to exist, for instance, if the cup’s shape is altered by breaking it, the cup forfeits some or all of its cupness, because the object’s function, its shape, as well as the imputation of cupness through perception is disrupted.
- The cup’s existence thus depends on external circumstances. Its physical essence remains elusive.
- A human being:
- A human being is composed of flesh, organs, blood, and other chemical components.
- Remove the blood and you have a corpse.
- Remove the organs and you have a corpse.
- Remove the other chemical components and you have a corpse.
- Remove the flesh and you still have a corpse.
- The corpse is empty by itself.
- The chemical components are empty by themselves.
- The organs are empty by themselves.
- The flesh is empty by itself.
- The blood is empty by itself.
- Put back everything into that human body.
- The blood is needed for the organs to operate.
- The chemical components are needed by the blood and the organs to function.
- The flesh is needed by the chemical components, the organs, and the blood to function.
- Only all these aspects together make the human being function.
- All these aspects are dependent on each other.
- If one condition ceases to exist, the human being is no longer a living being and therefore consciousness cannot be.
- The human being’s existence and functionality thus depends on the blood, the organs, and chemical components.
- Beyond this, human existence depends on the Earth, the chemical components in the atmosphere, and the sun’s energy and chemical components.
- possesses potential for Buddha
- has the ability for Dharma
- has the ability for Buddhahood
- has innate essence of Buddha
- has the realization of Buddhahood
- is the womb & embryo of Buddha
- is concealed by ignorance, delusion, defilements, unwholesomeness
- interest in mind: produces subjective & objective information
- How the mind constructs things
- Why and how it is aware of its own consciousness
- Six senses
- Mind (Consciousness)
- Body (Feel)
- Tongue (Taste)
- Nose (Smell)
- Ear (Hear)
- Eye (See)
- Eight consciousnesses
- The first five are the sensate “consciousnesses”:
- First consciousness: “Eye-consciousness” (Tibetan: mig-gi rnam-shes); seeing apprehended by the visual sense organs;
- Second consciousness: “Ear-consciousness” (Tibetan: rna’i rnam-shes); hearing apprehended by the auditory sense organs;
- Third consciousness: “Nose-consciousness” (Tibetan: sna’i rnam-shes), smelling apprehended through the olfactory organs;
- Fourth consciousness: “Tongue-consciousness” (Tibetan: lce’i rnam-shes); tasting perceived through the gustatory organs;
- Fifth consciousness: “Body-consciousness” (Tibetan: lus-kyi rnam-shes); tactile feeling apprehended through skin contact, touch.
- These first five along with the sixth are identified in the Sutta Pitaka:
- Sixth consciousness: “Ideation-consciousness” (Tibetan: yid-kyi rnam-shes); the aspect of mind known in Sanskrit as the “mind monkey”; the consciousness of ideation.
- The Yogacara School that espoused the Cittamatra Doctrine proffer two more consciousnesses:
- Seventh consciousness: “The manas consciousness “”Obscuration-consciousness” (Tibetan: nyon-yid rnam-shes); (Sanskrit: klistamanas = klesha “obscuration”, “poison”, “enemy”; manas “ideation”, “moving mind”, “mind monkey” (volition?); a consciousness which through apprehension, gathers the hindrances, the poisons, the karmic formations (c.f. Manas (early Buddhism)).
- Eighth consciousness: “store-house consciousness” (Tibetan: kun-gzhi rnam-shes; Sanskrit: ālāyavijñāna); ” The seed consciousness (bi^ja-vijn~a^na); “the consciousness which is the basis of the other seven. The seven prior consciousnesses are based and founded upon the eighth. It is the aggregate which administers and yields rebirth; this idea may in some respects be compared to the usage of the word “citta” in the agamas; see below. In the early texts the sankhara-khandha plays some of the roles ascribed to the store-house consciousness by later Yogacara thinkers.
- Causal force behind consciousness is:
- CONDITIONED/DEPENDENT ARISING
- Yoga: Physical and Mental Disciplines
- Karmic Seeds -> Consciousness
- Streams of Thoughts -> Mind -> Ongoing -> Experience -> Negative Seeds -> Storehouse Consciousness = Samsara -> Suffering -> Death
- Karmic seeds are the beginning of life.
- Determinant of family you are born into and where you end up
- karma directly linked to the motives behind an action.
- Motivation usually makes the difference between “good” and “bad” actions, but included in the motivation is also the aspect of ignorance such that a well-intended action from an ignorant mind can subsequently be interpreted as a “bad” action in the sense that it creates unpleasant results for the “actor.’
- Imagined: Separate instance
- Interdependent: Consciousness — Five Aggregates (Form -> Perception -> Feeling -> Mental Formation -> Consciousness)
- Perfect / Purify Self: Nirvana