It is the same with written words,It writes, 'A painter's products', they stand before us as if they are alive. But if you question them, they maintain a most majestic silence.
I thought this was applicable to the way we relate to the sutta pitaka. We try to understand how to free ourselves from distress, by reading the canon, or we talk about these things endlessly.they seem to talk to you as though they were full of wisdom, but if you ask them anything about what they say from a desire to be influenced, they go on telling you just the same thing.
Take the case of a recipe, by reading a recipe or talking about it, over and over again? that dinner is not going to appear, but if we gather the ingredients skin the lemon, grate the cheese and stir the pot on a hot stove??
you have begun the process, and making some headway.
- BuddhaDhamma is like this, it is a recipe.
Then the gathering of thought, unification, the playful mindfulness, samadhi, iddhipada, and so on.
Or consider a goldsmith, she prepares the furnace, heats up the crucible, takes some gold with a tong (wholesome factors) places in the crucible.
Suttas on the goldsmith, AN 3.101 and AN 3.102 https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/AN/AN3_102.htmlFrom time to time, she blows on it (exertion), from time to time sprinkles water over it (samadhi, 1st-4th jhana), and from time to time just looks on (Equanimity). Eventually the filigree jewellery!
I am sure sometimes the goldsmith gets it wrong, when she is distracted. and has to start over again. She does not give up.
Over exerted energy leads to restlessness, laziness results from too much samadhi, these are pitfalls of the 8th fold path too. One has to get the path right. One cannot read it, and decide "i will do steps
1-6 and skip steps 7 and 8" That is foolish.
You have to do the dry runs of the entire path, even when you are not sure, the first step "Right view" requires a lot of patience, even if you don't get it right entirely, maybe you got 1/10th right.
At least you are convinced of Rebirth and Kamma, and you are convinced that when things arise they condition other things, just as we can infer that what is happening right now, will condition the future (that what we think, and do, and speak have repercussions), hence the constant mindfulness.
Conditionality or DO does not disappear, until what is causing the conditions vanishes. The goal of the 8-fold path is to do away with conditioning, ending our distress. The practice of 8-fold path, is not limited to a long or a short time of a given day, on a cushion, but weaves through the livelong day, via every activity.
Sure there are lapses, 8-fold path cannot be built in a day, it is more sophisticated than what is taught at Insight Meditation centers.
True teaching is something sustainable once you leave the retreat, or the cushion. If it does not sustain, that means the practice is flawed. It is not the fault of the teaching.
Sometimes listen to the Reverends Thanissaro, Sona, Sujatho, Brahmali, but not always. Not everything they say may be right for you, but they are excellent teachers, each in his own way. They are also human with the typical human fallibilities, that makes them more endearing.
They are way better than the teachers whose meditation instruction directs you away from the 8-fold path, esp the 4 buddhist jhanas.
Return to the suttas, once more, and see whether that listening clarified what the suttas say. What do the suttas say? Suttas recurrently talk about blissfulness, happiness, an island of safety, that is exactly what we seek.
- Nibbana, the Third Noble Truth? How to retrieve? all within this 6 foot frame?
- Suffering or distress spoken of in the first truth vanished.
- What props up our unrealities?
- 'Doer' gets out of the way.
Cruelty leaves, asubha leaves, the auspicious remains. The process becomes smooth and sublime, as the stages advance.
Some poets of the canon identify these as heavenly realms. Now you are the god of Streaming radiance, and now the one of Refulgent glory, and so on and so forth.
These refer to manifestations of levels of Samadhi. (4 buddhist jhanas). Samadhi manifests in an ascending gladness (pamojja) of joy (piti), of rapture (sukha) and of tranquility (Pasadhi).
Notice how some of these terms are common to 4 Buddhist jhanas and the Awakening factors. One cannot put awakening factors in one box, breath in another box, and 4 aspects of mindfulness in another box. Samadhi is about bringing awakening factors into fruition.
The reference to a recipe? If you are the chef of the 8-fold path, and you have followed the instructions for the recipe of buddhist happiness, you are almost there, but almost doesn't count, so you have to keep repeating the things you think you got right, in the previous dry run.
Sometimes you glimpse Nibbana, sometimes you fall flat on your face.
But this is OK, Rome was not built in a day.