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Buddhadharma : Spring 2008
spring 2008| 28 |buddhadharma Practicing dhamma is thus extremely impor- tant. When I practiced, I didn’t know anything about mind moments or psychological factors. I just observed the quality of knowing. If a thought of hate arose, I asked myself why. If a thought of love arose, I asked myself why. This is the way. Whether it’s labeled as a thought or called a psy- chological factor, so what? Just penetrate this one point until you’re able to resolve these feelings of love and hate, until they completely vanish from the heart. When I was able to stop loving and hat- ing under any circumstances, I was able to tran- scend suffering, because at that point, no matter what happens, the heart and mind are released and at ease. Nothing remains; it has all stopped. Virtue, Meditation, and Wisdom Virtue (sila) is the beautiful beginning of the path to liberation; the deep peace of samadhi is the beautiful middle; wisdom is the beautiful end. Although they can be separated as three unique aspects of the training, as we look into them more and more deeply, these three qualities converge as one. To uphold virtue, you have to be wise. Usually we advise people to first develop ethical standards by keeping the five precepts so that their virtue will become solid. However, the perfection of virtue takes a lot of wisdom. We have to con- sider our speech and actions, and analyze their consequences. This is all the work of wisdom. Therefore, we have to rely on our wisdom in order to cultivate virtue. Wisdom purifies our actions and speech. Once we become familiar with ethical and unethical behavior, we see the place to practice. We abandon what’s wrong and cultivate what’s right. This is virtue. As we do this, the heart becomes increas- ingly firm and steadfast. A steadfast and unwav- ering heart is free of apprehension, remorse, and confusion concerning our actions and speech. This is samadhi. This stable unification of mind forms a sec- ondary and more powerful source of energy in our dhamma practice, allowing a deeper contem- plation of the sights, sounds, and so on that we experience. Once the mind is established with firm and unwavering mindfulness and peace, we can engage in sustained inquiry into the reality of the body, feeling, perception, thought, consciousness, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, physical sensations, and objects of mind. As these things continually arise, we investigate with a sincere determination not to lose our mindfulness. Only in this way do we come to know what they actually are and that they come into existence following their own natu- ral truth. Once there is clear comprehension of the way things truly are, our old perceptions are uprooted and our conceptual knowledge trans- forms into wisdom. That’s how virtue, samadhi, and wisdom merge and function as one. As wisdom increases in strength and intrepidity, samadhi evolves to become increasingly firm. The more unshakeable samadhi is, the more unshake- able and all-encompassing virtue becomes. As virtue is perfected, it nurtures samadhi, and the additional strengthening of samadhi leads to a maturing of wisdom. These three aspects of train- ing mesh and intertwine. United, they form the noble eightfold path, the way of the Buddha. Once virtue, samadhi, and wisdom reach their peak, this path has the power to eradicate those things that defile the mind’s purity, the kilesa. If the factors of the eightfold path are weak and timid, the defilements will possess our minds. If the knowing isn’t quick and nimble enough as forms, feelings, perceptions, and thoughts are experienced, they will possess and devastate us. However, if the noble path is strong and courageous, it will con- quer and destroy the defilements. The path and the defilements proceed in tandem. As dhamma prac- tice develops in the heart, these two forces have to battle it out every step of the way. It’s like there are two people arguing inside the mind, but it’s just the path of dhamma and the defilements struggling to win domination of the heart. When virtue, samadhi, and wisdom have attained full strength, the path of dhamma is unstoppable, advancing unceasingly to overcome the attachment and clinging that bring us so much anguish. Suffering can’t arise because the path is destroying the defilements. It’s at this point that the cessation of suffering occurs. Once we’ve arrived at this peace, even if we hear a noise, the mind remains unruffled. Once we’ve reached this peace, there’s nothing remain- ing to do. The Buddha taught us to give it all up. Whatever happens, there’s nothing to worry about. It is then that we truly, unquestionably know for ourselves and no longer simply believe what other people say. A Natural Process If there’s only a little clarity of insight, we call this little vipassana. When clear seeing increases a bit, we call that moderate vipassana. If knowing is fully in accordance with the truth, we call that ultimate vipassasa. Personally, I prefer to use the word wis- dom (pañña) rather than vipassana. I think if we’re going to sit down from time to time and practice vipassana meditation, we’re going to have a very difficult time of it. Insight has to proceed from peace and tranquility. The entire process will hap- pen naturally of its own accord. We can’t force it. The Buddha taught that this process matures at its own rate. Whether the progress is swift or slow is out of our control. It’s just like planting a A heart that has not yet been transformed through the training is unreliable, so don’t believe it. It’s totally encrusted and plastered over with defilements. dAvidgoldes