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My shift to to observe the noble eightfold path and ignore the rest of the scriptures

13/10/2014

Yesterday morning, I returned home from this year’s Vassa — the three-month annual retreat observed by Theravada practitioners. (Thus the blogging hiatus.) The Vassa typically lasts for three lunar months, usually from July to October. My Vassa experience began on 18 July at Santi Forest Monastery and completed at the newly founded Newbury Buddhist Monastery (NBM).

A saeculum is that period of time from the founding of the NBM (for instance) until the point in time that all those people (me included, of course) who had lived at the first moment of the NBM had died. At that point a new saeculum will start, hopefully. It all depends on how many saecula are given.

I’m grateful for the wide range of spiritual and mundane opportunities presented by these monasteries, and the honour of living in close proximity with noble people.

I resolved to observe the noble eightfold path and ignore much of the rest of the scriptures. Thus the noble eightfold path is at the heart of my practice. That shift, for example, requires embracing my pain, focusing on living nobly, shifting my attention to the moment, and dealing with things sensibly and realistically rather than in accordance with some theoretical considerations. Living harmlessly. I’m of the view that the four noble truths are pragmatic rather than dogmatic, anyway. Thus, this path is a course of action to be followed rather than a set of dogmas to be believed. In other words they are prescriptions for behaviour rather than descriptions of reality.

Further, I no longer think of Buddhist practice exclusively in term of gaining proficiencies in meditation and attaining spiritual attainment — if, I ever did. Rather, it is my view that the noble eightfold path is to live in this world in a way that allow those aspect of my existence to flourish and thrive by observing the noble eight fold path, and by doing so make some impact on this world of suffering. Thus there are areas of my life that call for specific ways of practicing the Dhamma. Meditation and mindfulness alone may not be sufficient.

I find it necessary to relegate the demands of this life to the higher task of preparing myself for post-mortem existence (or non-existence, whatever maybe the case). In any event, I’m concerned with the demands of this era of cruel exploitation of people and nature by means of sophisticated propaganda practices to befuddle the people of Australia and those elsewhere to crystallise their opinions and consensus on issues ranging from what to eat for breakfast to going to war. It is clear, that nothing becomes manifest until the mainstream media mantra endorses it. Nothing becomes real to most people before they get the mainstream word on it. People depend on the mainstream story, made up statistics, spin, illusions and omissions like it’s their life! Until they get that signal they’re not sure what to think. Consider how mainstream television news creates it’s hypnotic effect by presenting continually repeated data; stories that are framed as he-said, he-said; there is the blend, the segue, the smooth transition from one news story to the next; and, of course, there is the invisible threat story.

No matter how inadequate my responses to these demands are, and they are largely insignificant, of that reality I’m aware. And if in the end there does turn out to be a heaven or nirvana or whatever somewhere else, I can see no better way to prepare for it by living the noble eight fold path.

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