[Advayavada Study Plan – week 4] Non-liberated human beings are essentially prone to existential suffering (see last week, week 3) because they wrongly strive after and try to hold on to things, concepts and situations which they believe to be permanent, but are not. Their mistaken view of things is produced by a thirst, craving or clinging (tanha in Pali, trishna in Sanskrit) which is in turn caused by their fundamental ignorance (avijja in Pali, avidya in Sanskrit) or disbelief of the true nature of existence, particularly the impermanence and changeability of everything (see week 1) and the selflessness and emptiness (and, therefore, the finitude) of all things and beings (see week 2).
In Advayavada Buddhism, dukkha or duhkha does not include, in the context of the four truths, emotional grief nor physical pain, which are part and parcel of sentient existence, and is, above all, not seen as a permanent or inevitable feature of reality; it is, as explained, chiefly understood as the existential distress and distrust of life non-liberated human beings are prone to and which are essentially caused by the unhealthy and socially infectious feeling that reality, as they understand it, does not conform to their petty desires and mistaken expectations.
That thirst, craving or clinging, which is the second of the Buddha’s four noble truths or four truths for the noble ones (catur ariyasacca in Pali, catur aryasatya in Sanskrit), blinds them to the actual wonders and blessings of overall existence and can moreover easily take on a more unwholesome form: already as sensuous desire, ill-will (vyapada, also byapada), laziness, impatience or distrust will it seriously hinder the individual’s efforts to better his or her circumstances, as well as contaminate the efforts of others to improve theirs.
Advayavada Buddhism, on its part, invites us all to instead intelligently make the very best of our own lives by attuning as best as possible with actual wondrous overall existence becoming over time now in its manifest direction – this evolution or progress is seen in Advayavada Buddhism as the fourth sign or mark or basic fact of being (caturtha lakshana). We seek to become a true part of the wondrous whole by adhering to the five basic precepts (not to kill, not to steal, sexual restraint, not to lie, and refraining from alcohol and drugs) and by conscientiously following our personalized Noble Eightfold Path.
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