Advayavada Study Plan – week 11
The purpose of Advayavada Buddhism is to become a true part of the whole.
Our quest is fully personalized: it is firmly based on what we increasingly know about ourselves and our world, and trusting our own intentions, feelings and conscience. Adherence to the familiar five precepts (not to kill, not to steal, sexual restraint, not to lie, and refraining from alcohol and drugs) and a well-considered understanding of the three (in Advayavada Buddhism, four) signs of being and the Buddha’s four noble truths, which were the subjects of weeks 1 to 5, suffice to start off on this Path at any time.
Advayavada Buddhism does not tell you what to do or believe, but invites us all to make the very best of our own lives by indeed attuning as best as possible with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction. The Advayavada Study Plan (ASP) is repeated four times a year.
The purpose of the autonomous ASP is that we study (and debate in a local group, the family circle or with good friends) the meaning and implications of the weekly subject, not as a formal and impersonal intellectual exercise, but in the context of whatever we ourselves are presently doing or are concerned with, or about, such as our health, relationships, work, study, our place in society, etc.
(My own specific personal objective this quarter is to observe and interpret as closely as possible the workings in my own life of pratityasamutpada, i.e. the process of universal relativity or interdependent origination, understood as in Madhyamaka, where ‘all causes are effects and all effects are causes’, and karma, understood as the everchanging knotlet of biopsychosocial events in which I am personally embedded – what’s yours?)
In week 6 we reviewed and took stock of our personal situation and circumstances, in week 7 we took an appropriate and timely decision to adjust our course, in week 8 we put our decision and objective in writing as precisely as possible, in week 9 we further developed our very best attitude to carry out our improved personal objective, in week 10 we implemented our improved way of doing things as best as possible and, to continue our current 13-week plan of action, in week 11 we shall concentrate on mustering our very best effort and commitment to fulfil our improved objective.
This task is based on the 6th step on the Noble Eightfold Path: samma-vayama (in Pali) or samyag-vyayama (in Sanskrit); in Advayavada Buddhism’s usage: our very best effort and commitment; in Dutch: onze beste inspanning (de zesde stap op het edele achtvoudige pad). And importantly, as we advance properly along the Buddha’s Middle Way responding to his promise of Nirvana, we shall rid ourselves of the so-called ten fetters (dasa-samyojana) that restrict us to samsaric life: 1) belief in the self, 2) scepticism regarding the Path, 3) attachment to rituals, 4) partiality for certain things, 5) prejudice against certain things, 6) clinging to physical life, 7) hope of a hereafter, 8) conceit and pride, 9) intolerance and irritability, and 10) the last remnants of our ignorance.
Nirvana is, in Advayavada Buddhism, the total extinction of our existential suffering as a result of our complete reconciliation and harmonization with reality as it truly is beyond our commonly limited and biased personal experience of it; the unremitting persistency of human distress, alienation and conflict is essentially due to the very many not knowing or not understanding or simply disbelieving the true nature of existence.
Other translations of the 6th step are: right thought (Arnold), right effort (Bodhi, Burt, Ch’en, Conze, David-Neel, Dhammananda, Eliot, Fernando, Gethin, Grimm, Harvey, Humphreys, Keown, Khemo, Kornfield, Malalasekera, Narada, Narasu, Nyanatiloka, Rahula, Rhys Davids, Saddhatissa, St Ruth, Stroup), appropriate effort (Batchelor), right exertion (Dharmapala, Guenther), right endeavour (Bahm, Dharmapala, Horner, Takakusu), right application (Watts); proper effort in the proper direction (Edwardes); correct exertion (Kloppenborg), right striving (Melamed), correct striving (Scheepers), right exercise (Warder).