After four months, The Arahant has decided that he does not want to continue this blog. The reasons are several, but the main one is lack of participation. Only a handful of readers have submitted questions, and The Arahant feels that the benefit does not warrant the effort involved in maintaining this blog. These pages will remain indefinitely, but comments are now closed.
We thank our faithful readers, and apologize for any inconvenience. Please stay with us on our main blog, Ergontic.com
Our main effort in presenting the Buddha’s teaching is shifting to video production. We plan an extensive series of tutorials for English-speaking people on the original teaching of the Buddha. Because of deep-seated cultural conditioning, quite a bit of material is necessary to prepare Westerners to understand the Buddha’s teaching without distortion.
We strongly recommend watching each complete series in the order presented. Each series builds on the understanding presented in the previous one. Watching the videos out of order will lead to loss of comprehension and confusion.
Here are links to our Skillful Living video series playlists on YouTube. Links to materials including slides are found below the video players for each series. As we issue new videos, these links will be kept current on our video page.
Skillful Living 1: Foundations Series [3 videos]
- Slides PDF/ZIP [10 MB]
Skillful Living 2: Becoming Genius [6 videos]
- Slides PDF/ZIP [40 MB]
Skillful Living 3: Being in the World [14 videos]
Skillful Living 4: Call of the Friend [4 videos]
— Venerable Buddhavaṃsa Thero
Call of the Friend is the culmination of all the videos we have posted so far. The previous series were just to set the context. This is where it all comes together!
I uploaded four more videos to the Being in the World playlist today and there are more to come—I think 14 or 15 total. We worked hard on this series, which was originally made about a year ago when we were researching existentialist philosophy. I have updated the material and reimaged the graphic design, and added new intros and outtros.
The subject matter remains just as fresh and important as it was then; even more perhaps, now that our subsequent investigation and practice of the teaching of the Buddha has given such wonderful life-changing results.
The utility and importance of this series is that it forms a bridge between the typical western mindset and the beginning of the authentic teaching of the Buddha. The issues precisely target the typical blind spots in western thinking, and the important questions raised have no meaningful answer outside of the Buddha’s teaching.
If you find the subject matter too challenging, if it seems difficult to grasp, maybe you should take our suggestion and go through the Foundations and Becoming Genius Series for background and context before you tackle Being in the World.
We would like to see a lively discussion on this video series (and the preceding ones), as they are leading up to something very wonderful. Comments or questions, anyone?
Q: A reader asks:
Ven. Ananda, “But how, lord, could a monk have an attainment of concentration such that he would neither be percipient of earth with regard to earth… nor of the next world with regard to the next world, and yet he would still be percipient?” Ven. Sariputta (and the Buddha) both gave a response, “I was percipient at that time of ‘The cessation of becoming — Unbinding.” — Sariputta Sutta (AN 10.7)
“I would appreciate clarification, but I thought Unbinding was the result of cessation of perception and feeling, not being percipient of Unbinding?”
The Arahant: This is one of the most difficult topics. But it is easy to understand if you think about perceiving the lack of something. Did you ever enter a room and notice that something was missing? Such a perception is anchored in the expectation that the thing will be there. Something similar happens at Unbinding, when all being and becoming ceases. Read more…
Q: A reader asks:
Jhana Sutta (AN 9.36): “I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana….He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self.”
“When one is in concentration such as jhana, can one discern and clearly see the phenomenon arise without losing the focus and concentration of jhana? Simply put, does one discern the phenomenon within or immediately following jhana? This Sutta continues on through the rest of the jhanas. So, Deathless can be attained during any jhana as long as one can completely detach and remove desire?”
The Arahant: Jhana, like any state of consciousness, is a platform of awareness. It provides a background for perception that, like any context, colors the phenomena one perceives in that state. When the mind is concentrated it becomes luminous and clear, and any identification with phenomena is seen as an obstacle to the mind approaching its original state. Read more…
Q: Is it possible to give a succinct overview of the Buddha’s path that will be helpful to those trying to understand it?
The Arahant: Yes, of course.
The process of Dependent Origination is the Flood, and this is covered by the First and Second Noble Truths. The Noble Eightfold Path is the Raft, and this is covered by the Third and Fourth Noble Truths. All being is a process of becoming; however, the Noble Eightfold Path is a special process of becoming that ends further becoming. I don’t think the Buddha’s teaching could be stated more succinctly than that and still remain useful for people today.
There exist numerous interesting and useful relations between and among the stages of Dependent Origination and the Noble Eightfold Path. First of all there is a correspondence between the stages across the wheel from one another. In other words, there is an affinity between the stage of Ignorance in the process of Dependent Origination, and Faith in the Noble Eightfold Path. This is true of the other stages as well.
There is also a horizontal relation between them. For example, if through our practice we are able to arrest the process of Dependent Origination at the stage of Contact, we immediately find ourselves at Wisdom Sight on the Noble Eightfold Path, and can realize the coveted Eye of the Teaching. The earlier we can arrest the progression of Dependent Origination, the higher we find ourselves on the Noble Eightfold Path.
These affinities exist because Dependent Origination and of the Noble Eightfold Path are both processes of becoming. But since Dependent Origination begins from Ignorance, it develops towards Suffering; while the Noble Eightfold Path, beginning from Faith and Right View, delivers us to the cessation of suffering, Nibbana.