[Advayavada Study Plan – week 52] 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 attuning as best as possible, by means of the Noble Eightfold Path, with wondrous overall existence advancing over time now in its manifest direction; we seek to become a true part of the whole in this way, and our reference standard is wondrous overall existence and not misguided and failing mankind.
In Advayavada Buddhism, the Noble Eightfold Path 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 Buddha’s four noble truths and of the, in Advayavada Buddhism, four signs or marks or basic facts of being (lakshanas), suffice to start off and proceed on the Noble Eightfold Path at any time.
Evolution or, in human terms, progress (pragati in Sanskrit), i.c. our natural impulse or drive to thrive, change and advance is recognized, in Advayavada Buddhism, as the fourth sign of being or caturtha lakshana (cf. conatus, élan vital). To follow the personalized Noble Eightfold Path is our way of responding to it and, when done conscientiously, it becomes nothing less than the main karmic (and neuroplastic) factor in our life, i.e. in our fleeting share in the universal interdependent origination process (madhyamaka-pratityasamutpada) that brings forth wondrous overall existence.
The purpose of this autonomous and open-ended 13-week Advayavada Study Plan (ASP), which can conveniently be repeated four times in a calendar year, 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, or affected by, such as our health and state of mind, relationships, work, study, physical and social environment and circumstances, etc.
To conclude this fourth quarter’s ASP, throughout this week, week 52, we shall continue to develop and deepen [as we did in weeks 13, 26 and 39] our very best meditation towards Samadhi* and our awareness of Nirvana. This task is based on the last step on the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path: right concentration, samma-samadhi (in Pali) or samyak-samadhi (in Sanskrit); in Advayavada Buddhism’s personalized usage: our very best meditation or concentration towards samadhi; in Dutch: onze beste bezinning (de achtste stap op het edele achtvoudige pad).
*Samadhi (Pali and Sanskrit): literally means a.o. “putting together, joining, combining with, union, harmonious whole, trance” and “concentration of the thoughts, profound or abstract meditation, intense contemplation of any particular object” [Monier Williams], and consider further: perfect concentration (of the mind, enstasy); total absorption in the object of meditation; the merging of subject and object; realization of the sameness of the part and the whole, of the identity of body and mind, of form and emptiness, of emptiness and interdependence (all-conditionality), of Samsara and Nirvana, of phenomena and the Absolute, of the immediate and the ultimate; perfect attunement with wondrous overall existence advancing in its manifest direction; oceanic feeling; wonder, awe, rapture; essential purity; deep love and compassion; awareness of our common ground and the innocence of sex.
Please take care of yourself and others by following the official pandemic guidelines, particularly those concerning hand washing, social distancing and where and when to use a mask! Please be supportive of the vaccination programmes as they are rolled out; beware of false information about the vaccines and of conspiracy theories generally – population immunity is a must. Feel free to share this post: these systematic teachings are beneficial for anyone (also non-Buddhists) and those interested can follow this weekly ASP themselves on, for instance, advayavadabuddhism dot org and/or by joining our research network on Facebook. Our old but recently updated website advayavada dot org contains comprehensive information about the Advayavada understanding of Buddhism and has a handy search box at the bottom of each page.