Thursday, February 24, 2011

Buddhism: The Whole Bleeping Point!!! (today, at least)

I'm on a deep study of ACI Course: What the Buddha Meant. It's debated and talked about for 2,500 years. Some people say the main point of spirituality is to be in the moment, others say it's to be calm or learn how to cope. To find peace. The course quotes directly from Lord Buddha.

In the Sutra Requested by the Realized Being Rashtrapala the quote is pretty direct: 'beings must wander here because they have no knowledge of the ways of emptiness. Those of compassion use skillful means and millions of different reasonings to bring them into it."

Of course the course also said in his first teachings 'Don't believe what I teach; treat it like gold: melt it, cut it, rub it." So I'm trying to melt it (against my direct experience), cut it (against my own logical analysis), and rub it against other experts who I trust.

The basis of Lord Buddha's first teaching is the 4 Arya Truths. By definition of the word 'arya' (pakpa in Tibetan) means someone who has had a direct perception of emptiness.  He discovered these 4 truths after seeing emptiness directly and the truths were centered around dukkha or dissatisfaction of life in all its multitudes. He had these realizations -allegedly- in a deep state of meditation after training his mind and body for years. Therefore the very beginnings of historical Buddhism came from this moment, this direct perception of emptiness and toward the end of His historical life, Lord Buddha wrapped up his teachings in explaining their meaning in Commentary on the True Intent of the Sutras which concerns itself primarily with the concepts literal vs. figurative and how it all fits into emptiness.

It's not hard to deduce that if the very first teachings began after the direct perception of emptiness and concerned itself with helping people AND then the very last teachings concerned themselves with emptiness as a main summation of all the different teachings, that emptiness seems to be the beginning and end of it. Therefore emptiness seems to be the main purpose, where I start off in my studies and where I end. So why are there all these different teachings? Why is there all this talk of yoga, karma, chakras, angels, teachers, lineages?

Why do some Buddhist experts in the West not even mention emptiness? Why is there such a premium on 'being in the moment' when all that does is lead to death? I wonder this as I read article after article about learning to be calm, learning to cope with suffering. But the 4 Arya Truths weren't about how to 'cope' with the awful things of life (aging, sickness, death, hurt, pain, etc). The 4 Arya Truths are about stopping the awfulness. Crushing the ignorance and extinguishing the pains in the process.

I wonder this a lot until I remember the second part of the quote: skillful means. Some people respond to yoga more, others to debate, while still others love music, meditation techniques, other spiritualities and paths. All of these bring some sense of peace, which is needed to get one step closer to emptiness. I can't be upset at what I see when people comment on enlightenment as 'just being.' If this is a way of getting me one step closer or getting someone one step closer to having the concentration or wisdom necessary then I can't be annoyed. Quite the opposite, I should rejoice.

In Lord Buddha's time he taught 88,000 different teachings throughout his life. Yet toward the end, he admitted that whole point of it all was to skillfully bring people closer to ending their own pain through the direct perception of emptiness. To be more exact he said not bit of pain could ever be relieved unless mental afflictions are ended through the direct perception of emptiness. That is the very definition of nirvana: cessation of mental afflictions through the direct perception of emptiness. One is forced into seeing paradise by this method, just like I am forced into seeing my friends in pain because of all the deeds I've done in the past.

Nirvana is not a choice for Buddhas any more than 'dying' is a choice for me. Rather, both are illusions forced on the viewer based on what they've done. The illusion of life doesn't mean that nothing matters and to just be calm. On the contrary, EVERYTHING matter because they are shifting illusion based upon the deeds I've done. And I will continue 'doing' and reacting to these changing illusions until I understand emptiness. That is the point of studying karmic management and awareness, ethics, keeping vows: to clean up my illusions, to clean up my pain, to reacher higher to get to the ultimate goal when I can see myself the 4 Arya Truths in the only way really possible: by becoming an Arya.

That's the whole point of Buddhism as I see it today and according to the studies I've been doing. To become the Arya, to have the experience, to clean up the world that I'm seeing.

There are so many methods, so many religions, so many teachers saying different things. If these are Buddhas or people with compassion they are leading others closer to the end of their pain. That is something I can rejoice and feel peace in at all times. We are getting closer every day.

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