Posts Tagged Buddhism

Thinking – Secret Oral Teaching in Tibetan Buddhist Sects

Following Alexandra David Neel in Tibetan Oral Teachings the Tibetan Masters defined three main groups of people from their thinking capabilities:

“In general,” continued the Master, “we distinguish three kinds of individuals: those whose intelligence is completely dull : those whose intelligence is of average quality, able to understand some Truths which are specially evident; those endowed with an intelligence better equipped for acute perceptions, who are fit to penetrate below the surface of the world of physical phenomena and grasp the causes which are at work there.’

The last group is not bound by opinions, their mind is free to work with ideas presented to them:

“It is enough to direct the attention to these last, to say to them: ‘Look from this point of view, consider that’ and they perceive what is to be perceived there where they have been told to look; they understand what is really the thing which one has pointed out to them.

The dull will not be able to fathom the secret ideas:

“One may proclaim on the high road the Teachings considered secret, they will remain ‘secret’ for the individuals with dull minds who will hear what is said to them, and will grasp nothing of it but the sound.

“It is not on the Master that the ‘secret’ depends but on the hearer. A Master can only be he who opens the door:  it is for the disciple to be capable of seeing what lies beyond. Teachers exist who are able to discern the degree of intellectual acuteness of those who desire their Teaching, and they reserve the detailed explanation of certain doctrines for those whom they judge able to understand them. It is thus that the deep Teachings, transmitted orally from Master to disciple for many generations, have been passed on and preserved from oblivion. You have heard them. Do with them as you think fit. They are very simple, but, like a powerful battering ram, they run counter to the wall of false ideas rooted in the mind of man and the emotions which delight him casting him into suffering ….. Try!”

Those in between will create beliefs, opinions, out of what they hear, but will not understand the depth.

Transcendent Insight

Alexandra David NeelAbove the three categories we have a fourth, transcendent insight (lhag thong):

The Tibetan Masters who pass on the traditional oral teachings repeat insistently the fact that these teachings are for the use of individuals in the rab category, that is to say endowed with superior and excellent intelligence, the “lotus whose flowers grow above the level of the water” according to the picturesque comparison quoted above.

The object of these teachings is not to amuse the simple-minded, those charitably called in the Tibetan Scriptures the “children”, it is meant for the strong to make them stronger, for the intelligent to make them more intelligent, for the shrewd to develop their shrewdness and to lead them to the possession of transcendent insight (lhag thong) which constitutes the real enlightenment.

This oral tradition stems from a brilliant period of Buddhist philosophy, being handed down from master to disciple. They are not the result of supernatural revelation alone, but are the result of intellectual and spiritual investigations by men who also investigated the material plane, who possessed superior faculties of understanding, transcendent insight: lhag thong.

Transcendent Insight was the goal of the oral teachings:

The attainment of transcendent insight is the real object of the training advocated in the traditional Oral Teachings, which do not consist, as so many imagine, in teaching certain things to the pupil, in revealing to him certain secrets, but rather in showing him the means to learn them and discover them for himself.

Louise_Eugenie_Alexandrine_Marie_David_19th_centuryWhat we learn from each other is of no value, only what we ourselves understand trough our own investigations becomes wisdom. That’s what separate the second group from the third, the second group eats books and save their content as abstract thoughts in their memory, where the third group transforms it to wisdom.

Lhag thong means to look through the curtain, through the illusion:

Literally, lhag thong, means to see “more”, to see “beyond”, to see “extremely”, “supremely”. Thus, not only to see more than that which is seen by the mass of mankind who are crassly ignorant, but to see beyond the bounds limiting the vision of cultivated minds, to bring into being the third eye of Knowledge which the adepts of tantric sects place in the centre of the forehead of their symbolic Gods.

The primary advice Buddha gave his disciples was: Doubt. It leads to research and research leads to knowledge.

Those who follows the path has to take all the things up they take for granted, to understand it fully instead of abstract knowledge we have learned up through life.

Alexandra David Neel“Now investigate whether these facts which you accept as representing a reality are, truly, real. Examine them attentively and at length, putting aside all preconceived ideas, empty your mind of all the opinions which it has harboured concerning these facts; doubt that which you have mechanically admitted up to the present, look as you would look at quite new things, those which form your physical environment; you will then investigate the mental reactions to which they give rise.

Where have we received our current knowledge, from our senses:

We have seen, heard, tasted, smelt, touched various objects, either material or of a more tenuous nature. We have given names to these various objects, we have classified them in series of similar objects, we have built up, with them, a world which has become familiar to us in the same way as we furnish a house in which we live.

This is the illusion we live in. As children we have build our first illusions, the first rules we live by, we are not old enough to understand, so we create rules to live by, which we can change when we become older, but often we don’t, and these rules or packets of experiences are our karma and they can be sore to touch, but we have to open them to be free, and when we do, it only contains a childs fears, not a problem for a grown up.

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The Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path

The Wheel of Dharma

1. Right View –

I view things from what appears to me outwardly.

Man attains this kind of knowledge about the world when he acquires a right view of things, a view that has nothing to do with sympathy or antipathy or preference of any sort. He must strive as best he can to acquire the right view of each thing, purely according to what presents itself to him outwardly. That is the first principle: the Right View of things.

Lotus
2. Right Intent –

I judge in accordance with my right view.

Secondly, man must become independent of what has remained from earlier incarnations; he must also endeavor to judge in accordance with his right view of a thing and not be swayed by any other influences. Thus Right Judgment is the second principle.

Lotus
3. Right Speech –

I give true expression of my right view and judgment.

The third is that he must strive to give true expression to what he desires to communicate to the world, having first acquired the right view and right judgment of it; not only his words but every manifestation of his being must express his own right view, that and that alone. This is Right Speech.

Lotus
4. Right Focus –

I let my right view, judgment, and speech become deed.

The fourth principle is that man must strive to act, not according to his sympathies and antipathies, not according to the dark forces of Samskara within him, but in such a way that he lets his right view, right judgment and right speech become deed. This is Right Action.

Lotus
5. Right Alertness –

I act in my highest and best line of work.

The fifth principle, enabling a man to liberate himself from what is within him, is that he should acquire the right vocation and station in the world. We may best understand what Buddha meant by this, if we remember how many people are dissatisfied with the tasks devolving upon them, believing that some other position would be more advantageous. But a man should be able to derive from the situation into which he is born or into which fate has placed him, the best that is possible, i.e. to acquire the right `occupation’ or `vocation’. Whoever finds no satisfaction in the situation in which he is placed, will not be able to derive from it the power to unfold right activity in the world. This is what Buddha called Right Vocation.

Lotus
6. Right Purpose –

I work steadily till right action becomes a habit in me.

The sixth principle is that a man should make increasing efforts to ensure that what he acquires through right views, right judgment and so forth, shall become habit in him. He is born into the world with certain habits. A child gives evidence of this or that inclination or habit. But man’s endeavors should be directed, not towards retaining the habits, proceeding from Samskara but towards acquiring those that gradually become his own as the result of right views, right judgment, right speech, and so on. These are the Right Habits.

Lotus
7. Right Effort –

I link the present with the past and thus account for what I have already learned in previous lives.

The seventh principle is that a man should bring order into his life through not invariably forgetting yesterday when he has to act to-day. He would never accomplish anything if he had to learn his skills anew each time. He must strive to develop recollectedness, mindfulness, regarding everything in his life. He must always turn to account what he has already learned, he must link the present with the past. Thus along the Eightfold Path man must acquire Right Mindfulness in the sense of Buddha’s teaching.

Lotus
8. Right Motivation –

I let the things of the world speak directly to me without partiality to views of other humans or my former incarnations.

The eighth quality is acquired when, without partiality for one view or another and without being influenced by any element remaining in him from former incarnations, he surrenders himself with pure devotion to the things of the world, immerses himself in them and lets them alone speak to him. This is Right Contemplation.

Buddha - Mercury, by Jane Adams.Buddha – Mercury

This is the Eightfold Path, of which Buddha said to his disciples that if followed it would gradually lead to the extinction of the thirst for existence with its attendant suffering, and impart to the soul something that brings liberation from elements enslaving it from past lives.

lotusflower1x2

Throat Chakra, the Sixteen Petaled Lotus

The Eightfold Path is connected to the Vishuddha, the throat Chakra or the Sixteen Petaled Lotus as Rudolf Steiner Calls the astral organ.

In “Knowledge of the Higher Worlds And Its Attainment” Rudolf Steiner goes more in depth with the Eightfold Path. The Initial words from the text about the Sixteen Petaled Lotus:

The organ in the vicinity of the larynx has sixteen petals or spokes; the one in the region of the heart twelve, and the one in the pit of the stomach ten.

Now certain activities of the soul are connected with the development of these organs, and anyone devoting himself to them in a certain definite way contributes something to the development of the corresponding organs. In the sixteen-petaled lotus, eight of its sixteen petals were developed in the remote past during an earlier stage of human evolution. Man himself contributed nothing to this development; he received them as a gift from nature, at a time when his consciousness was in a dull, dreamy condition. At that stage of human evolution they were in active use, but the manner of their activity was only compatible with that dull state of consciousness. As consciousness became clearer and brighter, the petals became obscured and ceased their activity. Man himself can now develop the remaining eight petals by means of conscious exercises, and thereby the whole lotus flower becomes luminous and mobile. The acquisition of certain faculties depends on the development of each one of the sixteen petals. Yet, as already shown, only eight can be consciously developed; the remainder then appear of their own accord.

The development proceeds in the following manner. The student must first apply himself with care and attention to certain functions of the soul hitherto exercised by him in a careless and inattentive manner.   There are eight such functions

Throat Chakra

[In Danish: “Hvordan når man til erkendelse af de højere verdener?” af Rudolf Steiner.]

References

I have made the presentation of Buddhas Eightfold Path from Rudolf Steiners lectures on The Gospel of Luke.

The goal was to make a short and simple description of the path, followed with references for deeper understanding of the why.

Se also the Twelf Petaled Lotus, Ahanhata, The Heart Chakra:

Heart Chakra

And the Six Petaled Lotus, Svadhistana, The Sacral Chakra:

Sakral Chakra

Kristina Kaine has elaborated over the theme in “Eightfold Path of Buddha in the Gospel of St John“.

A meditation for modern man: Meditation as contemplative inquiry : when knowing becomes love / Arthur Zajonc

See also The Noble Eightfold Path at Wikipedia.

The Path

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