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, in week 11 we concentrated on mustering our very best effort and commitment to fulfil our improved objective and, to continue our current 13-week plan of action, in week 12 we again make our best possible evaluation of our efforts to date.
This task is based on the 7th step on the Noble Eightfold Path: samma-sati (in Pali) or samyak-smriti (in Sanskrit); in Advayavada Buddhism’s usage: our very best observation or reflection and self-correction; in Dutch: onze beste aandacht (de zevende stap op het edele achtvoudige pad). Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says that Right Mindfulness is at the heart of the Buddha’s teaching: “When Right Mindfulness is present, the Four Noble Truths and the other seven elements of the Eightfold Path are also present.” Next week is the last step in this 13-week cycle: we shall then continue to develop our very best meditation towards Samadhi and our awareness of Nirvana.
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 7th step are: right loneliness (Arnold), right alertness (Burt), right mindfulness (Bahm, Bodhi, Ch’en, Conze, Dhammananda, Dharmapala, Eliot, Fernando, Gethin, Harvey, Horner, Karunadasa, Keown, Malalasekera, Narada, Rahula, Rhys Davids, Saddhatissa, St Ruth, Takakusu), appropriate mindfulness (Batchelor), right attention (David-Neel), right recollectedness (Grimm, Watts), right inspection (Guenther), right recollection (Humphreys, Stroup), right attentiveness (Khemo, Nyanatiloka), right concentration (Kornfield), right thought (Narasu), right remembering (Melamed), right remembrance, right memory, right awareness; full understanding of action and thought (Edwardes); correct attention (Kloppenborg, Scheepers), right self-possession (Warder).
Feel free to share these ASP instalments.