Under the fig tree

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Under the fig tree

Postby Jechbi » Sun Oct 25, 2009 3:29 am

fwiw, a little fun with figs, inspired by this:
He who does not find core or substance
in any of the realms of being,
like flowers which are vainly sought
in fig-trees which have none,
— such a monk gives up the here and the beyond,
just as a serpent sheds its worn-out skin.

And so, papanca being what it is, I start thinking about figs :shrug:

    --- The fig is actually the flower of the tree.

    --- In the biblical book of Genesis, Adam and Eve cover themselves with fig leaves after eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    --- There's a chapter in the Quran named after the fig tree.

    --- Anyone else give a fig?
- sigh -

:reading:

From here, this wonderful explanation:
Nyanaponika Thera wrote:Like ignorant people who want to pick flowers where none can be expected, since time immemorial men have sought in vain for an abiding core and substance within themselves and in the world they inhabit. Or they have hoped to find it beyond their own world, in celestial realms and in their gods. Man is driven to that unceasing but futile quest for something immortal by his longing for a state of security, living as he does in an entirely insecure world which he constantly sees crumbling around him and below his own feet. Not that the vast majority of men would care for the boredom of living forever in the immobility which any stable and secure condition implies. But they long for it as a temporary refuge to which they can resort, as children resort to the soothing arms of their mother after becoming sore and tired by their wild and reckless play.

Behind that longing for security, be it temporary or constant, there looms a still stronger driving force: the fear of death, the desire for self-preservation. This holds true for the coarsest as well as the subtlest form of that search for permanency, be it a wish for the perpetuation of sense enjoyment in a sensuous heaven, or the expression of a "metaphysical need," or the deep yearning for a unio mystica. This quest for permanency and security may also manifest itself as an urge for absolute power or for absolute self-surrender, for absolute knowledge or for absolute faith.

Since man's early days, as soon as he first started to reflect upon his life situation, he turned his glance everywhere in search of something stable in a world of instability. He looked for it in the personified forces of nature, in stellar bodies, in the four great elements of matter, believing one or another to be the ultimate matrix of life. But chiefly he sought it in those changing forms and symbols of the divine which he had created in the image of his own longings, within the scope of his own understanding, and for the furtherance of his own purposes, noble or low.

Firm belief in an Absolute, whether a god or a state, has appeared to man to be so absolutely necessary that he has used all subtleties of his intellect and all autosuggestive devices to persuade himself to accept this or that form of religious or political faith. He has also used every possible means, fair and foul, either to coax or to coerce others to recognize and worship his religious or political idols. Often not much coercion was needed, as there were always those who were only too glad to sacrifice their intellect and surrender their freedom at the altars of those idols, to win in return a feeling of security and doubt-free certainty.

Men have too easily believed, and made others believe, that when there is a word there must also be a "real thing" corresponding to it: thence an abiding core, an eternal substance, within or behind this transient world. It was the Buddha who urged men to desist from their vain search for the non-existent and see reality as it is:

Entirely coreless is the world.
Sutta Nipata, v.927

He, the Awake, cleared the way to the open, leaving behind the towering edifices of ideologies and the debris in which they inevitably end. Showing up in their hollowness the claims of diverse Absolutes, he pointed out that only the hard way of critical examination, our precarious and limited freedom of choice, and the road of morally responsible thought and action can lead us to freedom from suffering.

And only a world that is entirely changeable can give us hope for final liberation. Anything permanent found in the world would necessarily bind us to it forever, making liberation impossible.

But one who is instructed by the Buddha, "the Knower of the Worlds," will not find any core of permanency in any form of existence high or low, nor a core of lasting happiness or of an abiding personality. Such a one will not cling to the here nor yearn for a beyond; he will remain unattached to either side. Seeing world and self as void of an abiding core, he wins the unclouded vision of reality and, finally, Nibbana's peace.


:buddha1:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Under the fig tree

Postby Ben » Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:10 am

Holy Fig!

Someone else that is turned on, figuratively, by Nyanaponika's work and The Worn-out Skin: Reflections on the Uraga Sutta.
metta

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Re: Under the fig tree

Postby pink_trike » Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:29 am

If you continue to follow that fig tree through the mythologies of the world, your eyes are going to be opened much farther than you can imagine...be aware that the actual type of tree will change in some mythologies...you'll notice after a while that it is the tree itself that is of importance...though "fig" will be found commonly enough.

You may notice in your travels through the world's mythology that there is a pesky serpent that seems to hang around that tree...

You will also likely notice that the tree and the serpent have some companions that follow them around the world...familiar companions that you know from the mythology of Buddhism - but that far predate Buddhism.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Under the fig tree

Postby Guy » Sun Oct 25, 2009 5:54 am

I have heard some strange theories about ancient stories involving trees and serpents, some involving... :alien:

What is your theory about the symbology of the tree and the serpent pink (if you have one)?
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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Re: Under the fig tree

Postby pink_trike » Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:49 am

Briefly, there was once a global mono-cosmology (dates far back into the mists of time) that was based on astronomy (the movements of the heavens) concerning a particular aspect of the astrophysical relationship between the Sun and Earth and the effect that this particular aspect of this relationship has on the Earth plane and the solar system. Central to this scientific cosmology was the concept of the World Tree, which represents the axis of the globe and center of the world, which are two different but related phenomenon (World Axis, Axis Mundi, Center of The World, World Pillar, etc...). The Serpent was the particular aspect. The effect of this aspect and human being's relationship with this effect is the basis of many of the moral codes found in our premodern ancestor's recordings from around the globe. The dressings of this myth vary from culture to culture, but the main players keep turning up in nearly all of them, and common to most all of them is the development of a personal identification with the world tree that results in clarity, transformation, and release from the "burden of time".

Yes, a few of them reference :alien: including the Hopi and Tibetan Buddhist mythologies, and many of them speak of variations on this theme (visitors from other realms).
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Under the fig tree

Postby Guy » Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:59 am

Interesting, thanks for the info. :reading:
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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The wedding

Postby Jechbi » Sun Oct 25, 2009 3:07 pm

Also interesting to me is the recurring image of the flower, found for example in this description of another text from the Sutta Nipata:
Dr. R.L. Soni wrote:Thus, if on waking up in the morning, or on the start of a trip, or in the course of a long journey, or the beginning of an enterprise, or during a sacred ceremony, one meets with what is taken to be a sign of good fortune, such as a flower in bloom, a smiling face, good news or even something at first sight offensive but potentially considered good, some people feel assured of success in the subsequent course of events.

And of course there's this story from the Zen tradition:
Mumonkan wrote:The World-Honored One long ago instructed the assembly on Vulture Peak by holding up a flower. At that time, everyone in the assembly remained silent; only Mahākāśyapa broke into a smile. The World-Honored One stated, “I possess the treasury of the true Dharma-eye, the wondrous mind of nirvana, the subtle Dharma-gate born of the formlessness of true form, not established on words and letters, a special transmission outside the teaching. I bequeath it to Mahākāśyapa.”

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi tells the story of a man searching for unique flowers for a garland to present at a wedding. This man wants to make a garland with flowers that never before have been used. He asks a couple boys for advice, and they suggest to him (maybe as a joke) that he gather flowers from the fig tree.

So the poor guy goes to the fig tree and looks all around, but he can't find any flowers. A monk sitting nearby sees this and asks him, what are you looking for? The man tells him, fig flowers. Then the monk informs him, there's no such thing as fig flowers.

The Buddha, seeing this conversation unfold in his mind's eye, appears before the monk and delivers the verse quoted above, in the OP. And the monk attains to the fruit of arahant.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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Re: Under the fig tree

Postby pink_trike » Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:02 pm

The Edda (old Nordic mythology that extends back into the mists of time) speaks of Odin, who after impaling himself with his spear to the world tree upside down for 9 days (killing of the "self") finally "falls" but retains extensive wisdom and knowledge from the depths (that is encoded in the Runes) and is freed from hovering between life and death as a result of having sacrificed his "self".
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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Re: Under the fig tree

Postby fig tree » Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:38 am

Jechbi wrote:--- Anyone else give a fig?

:thinking: You rang?

I wanted a user name that corresponded to something prosaic from the Buddha's life story.

Fig Tree
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Re: Under the fig tree

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 26, 2009 7:42 am

fig tree wrote:
Jechbi wrote:--- Anyone else give a fig?

:thinking: You rang?

I wanted a user name that corresponded to something prosaic from the Buddha's life story.

Fig Tree


"Empty Highway" would have been good: Nagita, when I come to the highway, if I do not see anyone in front or behind, at that time I find it pleasant, at least for the purpose of urinating and excreting. Yasasutta somewhere in the AN.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Under the fig tree

Postby cooran » Mon Oct 26, 2009 7:57 am

"Empty Highway" is something very hard to find nowadays in India. Instead, bus drivers look for Legume fields for their passengers (Ladies to the left, gentleman on the right please). Legume fields have the best bushy bushes to crouch behind when attending to natures calls, to screen you from the incessant beeping of leering truck drivers.

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Under the fig tree

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:02 am

Chris wrote:"Empty Highway" is something very hard to find nowadays in India. Instead, bus drivers look for Legume fields for their passengers (Ladies to the left, gentleman on the right please). Legume fields have the best bushy bushes to crouch behind when attending to natures calls, to screen you from the incessant beeping of leering truck drivers.

metta
Chris


Ah, the joys of over-population.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Under the fig tree

Postby Jechbi » Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:14 pm

Hi fig tree,
fig tree wrote:I wanted a user name that corresponded to something prosaic from the Buddha's life story.

Well, I like your user name.

_________
Hi Tilt,
tiltbillings wrote:"Empty Highway" would have been good: Nagita, when I come to the highway, if I do not see anyone in front or behind, at that time I find it pleasant, at least for the purpose of urinating and excreting. Yasasutta somewhere in the AN.

In the context of this discussion about trees and flowers and the Buddha's teachings, are you trying to make any particular point by introducing the image excrement?
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.
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