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Buddhism, mindfulness and wellbeing

oneday

oneday

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Today, the day of the first full moon in April (which is tonight), is celebrated as the beginning of the New Year in the Theravada Buddhist tradition - as followed particularly in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Burma.

In all Buddhist traditions, New Year is a time for reflection as well as festivities. It is customary for people to consider their lives, and try to identify and rectify mistakes, and attention is paid to preparing for the year to come.

I came across this that I liked, relating to (any) New Year, an extract from a piece called ‘How to Begin Again: From Wounds to Wisdom’ by Diane Renz, a psychotherapist and writer:


“Beginning again is always an option. It sounds simple, but inquire into your own experience – whether it is with a new exercise routine or diet, a resolve to meditate or have a writing practice or be on time, or a promise of relating in kinder ways with your partner–what happens when you miss a day? Do rigid ideas of how you “should” do something, the black and white thinking and unforgiveness, get in the way of simply beginning again? Like the Nike ad, “just do it” can cut through incessant thinking about failing to do it just right, and we can ‘just do it’ imperfectly.

There is a practice of “Beginning Anew” that I learned while studying with Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh , a peacemaker and human rights advocate nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King. It was presented as a way of working with conflict within relationship with another. Step one is to create a mindful atmosphere both externally and internally, Step two is to express thanks to the other for who they are or what they have done (sounds easy, but imagine how angry you are with someone, this is the last thing you want to do), Step three is to express your apology for how you may have caused harm in the relationship (even harder to do, to admit fault when your eyes are peeled on what is the fault of the other), and Step four is to then express the pain you feel when the other does whatever the other does, and what your need is (now you are getting to what you wanted to express to begin with but because you are softened in relationship to yourself and the heart of the other, the communication comes in a non-injurious way).

My suggestion is to use this format of Beginning Anew for ourselves:

1. Create Mindfulness in ourselves (the quality of attention that is open, accepting, curious, non judging—using breath and an embodied practice)

2. Offer appreciation for what we have done

3. Offer our own mourning for how we have not aligned with our intention

4. Express what we long for, rooted in our strength, acknowledge what we might be able to change

When we feel defeated, fail to meet our own expectations, or have been unable to keep to our new resolution for change, it is not the end, but rather, the beginning of creating new perspectives that allow the possibility to open to and approach life as it is, as we are. It is the courageous heart that lives in imperfection, staying open to the vulnerability that brings forth the failings and the successes.

It is the willingness to be exposed to the light and the elements which allows our ripening and integration. Like the tree stripped of its leaves in winter, exposed, waiting, breathing the sunlight from above and the nutrients from below, letting the storms reveal both its vulnerability and its strength to restore with new buds of life.”


Happy New Year! Celebrating new beginnings!
 
T

teakans jet force

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Does anyone else find Buddhist or mindfulness meditation ideas and practice helpful for their mental wellbeing? - Or perhaps similar non-dogmatic (Eastern?) spiritual approaches? [/SIZE][/COLOR]

Here's an argument against your so called soft eastern buddhist ways.

There is No "Eastern" Solution.

 
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oneday

oneday

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Thanks, teakans - I'll take that as a 'no' from you (and Christopher Hitchens) then! - which is cool with me. I've got nothing invested in anyone else in particular finding things useful in 'mindfulness'/Buddhist/Eastern practices. Whatever gets you through the night and does no harm is okay by me - hence the bit about 'non-dogmatic', and the open question.

To be fair (on me), I was asking if anyone found non-dogmatic (Eastern?) spiritual approaches useful. I would never talk about solutions . I have plenty of questions and reservations about any kinds of 'spiritual' (whatever that means) ideas and practices, but I have found things that I've found useful and I consider wise in mindfulness, in some teachings found in the Buddhist tradition, and some in some other Eastern traditions.

I wonder why the heavy tone about "so called soft eastern buddhist ways" - and "There is No "Eastern" Solution"? I'm sad and a bit shaken about that. I'm probably being naive and too thin-skinned.

This thread has been a place that offered a bit of positive respite for me (I started it in order to, I hoped, "light a candle rather than just rage against the darkness" following what seemed to me at the time endless and painful arguments elsewhere on the forum, which created a lot of hurt and anger, but did nothing to change anything or anyone's mind for the better, as far as I could see), and some people have appreciated it, this thread.

I'll listen to the video later if I can, but from just the opening, I know there would be a lot for Hitchens to criticise in the life of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. In 452 posts (and nearly 25,000 visits) that's the first time he's got a mention - i.e. the thread really is not about him.
 
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oneday

oneday

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This quote is attributed to the Buddha:

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."


Or/and I like these quotes from 17th century philosopher and Christian theologian Baruch Spinoza (with or without the 'God' bit):

"As men's habits of mind differ, so that some more readily embrace one form of faith, some another, for what moves one to pray may move another to scoff, I conclude ... that everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits; each would then obey God freely with his whole heart, while nothing would be publicly honoured save justice and charity."

and...

"One and the same thing can at the same time be good, bad, and indifferent, e.g., music is good to the melancholy, bad to those who mourn, and neither good nor bad to the deaf."

and...

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them."
 
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T

teakans jet force

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Thanks, teakans - I'll take that as a 'no' from you (and Christopher Hitchens) then - which is cool with me.
Hey I totally understand you about some things, I have looked at buddhism many times through the years by reading books and trying meditation~ When looking in to such religions I think a good judgment is necessary so we don't become fooled and "taken on" that's why I posted the video just to show there's another side.

I honestly don't know about Buddhism becuase it has enticed me with the spiritual and meditaion side it's the further I go in the more doctrine seems to appear. and I'm not a buddhist so would never know how far is far enough!!!
 
oneday

oneday

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BTW I noticed this morning that this thread has now had over 25,000 visits (actually 25,030), which is a huge lot of visits for this forum - probably a lot to do with if you put some combination of 'mindfulness' 'mental health' and 'Buddhism' into Google it comes up near the top of the first page.

However you got here - Hi everyone! :)
 
oneday

oneday

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Hi again, theakans - thanks for explaining where you're coming from a bit. It makes more sense to me now.

Yes, I totally agree about not being fooled and 'taken on', keeping your judgement, your wits about you (hence the Buddha quote above, for instance). Like you, I've also found doctrinaire Buddhism in my travels and reading - and just to be clear, I wouldn't call myself a "Buddhist" - I'm far too skeptical for that, and there's much I question and don't accept, only there's stuff I find meaningful and useful in there too - and that's what this thread has been about.

I did listen to the video in the end - who could disagree with him in opposing the hatred and violence carried out by the Sinhalese 'Buddhists' or Tamil 'Hindus', or the fascism of Imperial Japan? But as the Spinoza quote above says, one and the same thing can at the same time be used to do good, bad, or can just be indifferent. Just like a knife can be used to cut up food, or used to threaten and kill someone (or just sit in a drawer?!).

I guess what I'm looking for is what serves "justice and charity" and is "conducive to the good and benefit of one and all" as the quotes above also say, though I don't really know if I'm looking in the right place most of the time.

The kinds of teachers of mindfulness and/or Buddhism that I've found meaningful and useful to me are people like modern 'mindfulness' pioneers Jon Kabbat-Zinn and Saki Satorelli, or modern-day Buddhist teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron and Jack Kornfield, and as far as I know there have been no wars fought in their names, and no corruption and violence such as that Hutchins describes in the case of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

Listening to Hutchins's video, I thought that I could easily give him a run for his money in questioning ideas of some Eastern religions/sects, and list numerous examples of corruption, oppression, abuse, violence and so forth, too.

I came across this review of his book on Amazon which says some things about Hutchins's book 'God is Not Great' that I found myself in agreement with:

"What is surprising is his relative ignorance about Eastern religions. He does a great job of dissecting and actually chopping up and throwing into the grinder the so-called monotheistic religions of the Middle East; but when he attempts the same with Hinduism and Buddhism he doesn't fare as well. (He has little to say about Jainism, Taoism, or Vedanta.) He attacks Gandhi with vigor and makes some mention of some Buddhist leaders accommodating Imperial Japan, but doesn't address the ideas or the literature of Buddhism. This is a failing since Buddhism differs markedly from the religions of Abraham. Hitchens in his eagerness to denounce all religion seems blissfully unaware of this fact. While it is true that Hinduism has committed some of the same horrific crimes against humanity that the Middle Eastern religions have, and has some similar stupidities in some of its literature, Hinduism is so varied in its beliefs and practices to defy Hitchens's cookie-cutter approach. His main example from Hinduism comes from his knowledge about the Hindu con-artist Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh with his fleet of Rolls-Royces and his mindless followers. Rajneesh has been discredited many times over.

To be candid, Hitchens doesn't really understand religion. He is right of course in his observations of the atrocities committed in God's name and under the influence of a myriad of imams, priests, gurus and such down through the ages. But there is a spiritual side to religion that Hitchens does not address except in passing. Again it is true that one of the last places you'd want to look for spirituality is in a church or an ashram or a mosque. And it is also true that the value of spirituality is personal and therefore mostly invisible to people like Christopher Hitchens."


Okay, I'm out of here now, off to the country for the Easter weekend. Have a good one :)
 
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AliceinWonderland

AliceinWonderland

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BTW I noticed this morning that this thread has now had over 25,000 visits (actually 25,030), which is a huge lot of visits for this forum - probably a lot to do with if you put some combination of 'mindfulness' 'mental health' and 'Buddhism' into Google it comes up near the top of the first page.

However you got here - Hi everyone! :)
Hi Oneday,

Congrats on this mega number of visits:clap: I get a lot from this thread, so cheers. Have a good Easter weekend :)


Alice
 
A

Apotheosis

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".......But there is a spiritual side to religion that Hitchens does not address except in passing. Again it is true that one of the last places you'd want to look for spirituality is in a church or an ashram or a mosque. And it is also true that the value of spirituality is personal and therefore mostly invisible to people like Christopher Hitchens."
I like Hitchens & think that he has made some very good points & arguments; & I've done my best to listen to, consider & understand the perspectives & opinions of Hitchens & his 'camp' (Dennett/Dawkins etc). But for me there is massive Worlds of difference between spirituality & religions. & although in many ways Hitchens is right in his observations about the aspects of religions that he is speaking - there is a vast domain of experience/understanding that is never addressed.

However - I'm thankful & glad for these proponents of Atheism; & feel that it is much needed to counter-balance all the fundamentalist/religious rhetoric. (in many ways both sides are just 2 sides of the same coin - the Atheistic Materialist & fundamentalist Religious). Ironically a well thought thought out Atheism is I feel very often a far more humane, responsible & spiritual position; than that taken by many of the religious.

As regards to 'no mind' - words can only point the way in such areas (the finger pointing to the moon). Of course on more rational & literal levels these things make no sense at all. The mind/intellect/rationale is to be used & is needed - but it is in truth only a part of who we really are. Unless this has been experienced; then it is impossible for someone to understand the truth that some mystical/spiritual statements/teachings point to.
 
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L

lostminty

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I've been reading the happiness trap, its based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), which in turn is based on mindfulness.

One thing that I hadn't really picked up on through previous encounters with mindfulness is this analogy of the thinking mind being something you don't turn off, in fact any attempt to quieten it is known as a control strategy and has rebound effects. Instead you accept that is what is currently being thought/seen/heard and realise it is just a thought, nothing real about it. They likened the thinking mind as like a television that you have playing in the background that you just tune out and don't concern yourself with unless it has something useful to say.

The idea of usefulness of thoughts is interesting, something that buddhism accounted for in a way i didn't really understand. In buddhism i found the goal was to see thoughts pass as efficiently as practical, and if need be you explore where thoughts come from but only for the purpose of resolving them. Where as with ACT you develop criteria of what is considered useful through understanding your values
 
Parayana

Parayana

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This quote is attributed to the Buddha:

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."
People often quote that piece of the Kalamma Sutta without posting it in full, so I thought I'd post a full translation of the Sutta.

AN 3.65
PTS: A i 188
Thai 3.66
Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas
translated from the Pali by
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
© 1994–2012
Alternate translation: Soma

Translator's note: Although this discourse is often cited as the Buddha's carte blanche for following one's own sense of right and wrong, it actually says something much more rigorous than that. Traditions are not to be followed simply because they are traditions. Reports (such as historical accounts or news) are not to be followed simply because the source seems reliable. One's own preferences are not to be followed simply because they seem logical or resonate with one's feelings. Instead, any view or belief must be tested by the results it yields when put into practice; and — to guard against the possibility of any bias or limitations in one's understanding of those results — they must further be checked against the experience of people who are wise. The ability to question and test one's beliefs in an appropriate way is called appropriate attention. The ability to recognize and choose wise people as mentors is called having admirable friends. According to Iti 16-17, these are, respectively, the most important internal and external factors for attaining the goal of the practice. For further thoughts on how to test a belief in practice, see MN 61, MN 95, AN 7.79, and AN 8.53. For thoughts on how to judge whether another person is wise, see MN 110, AN 4.192, and AN 8.54.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One, on a wandering tour among the Kosalans with a large community of monks, arrived at Kesaputta, a town of the Kalamas. The Kalamas of Kesaputta heard it said, "Gotama the contemplative — the son of the Sakyans, having gone forth from the Sakyan clan — has arrived at Kesaputta. And of that Master Gotama this fine reputation has spread: 'He is indeed a Blessed One, worthy, & rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, a knower of the cosmos, an unexcelled trainer of those persons ready to be tamed, teacher of human & divine beings, awakened, blessed. He has made known — having realized it through direct knowledge — this world with its devas, maras, & brahmas, its generations with their contemplatives & brahmans, their rulers & common people; has explained the Dhamma admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, admirable in the end; has expounded the holy life both in its particulars & in its essence, entirely perfect, surpassingly pure. It is good to see such a worthy one.'"

So the Kalamas of Kesaputta went to the Blessed One. On arrival, some of them bowed down to him and sat to one side. Some of them exchanged courteous greetings with him and, after an exchange of friendly greetings & courtesies, sat to one side. Some of them sat to one side having saluted him with their hands palm-to-palm over their hearts. Some of them sat to one side having announced their name & clan. Some of them sat to one side in silence.

As they sat there, the Kalamas of Kesaputta said to the Blessed One, "Lord, there are some brahmans & contemplatives who come to Kesaputta. They expound & glorify their own doctrines, but as for the doctrines of others, they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, & disparage them. And then other brahmans & contemplatives come to Kesaputta. They expound & glorify their own doctrines, but as for the doctrines of others, they deprecate them, revile them, show contempt for them, & disparage them. They leave us absolutely uncertain & in doubt: Which of these venerable brahmans & contemplatives are speaking the truth, and which ones are lying?"

"Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt. When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering' — then you should abandon them.

"What do you think, Kalamas? When greed arises in a person, does it arise for welfare or for harm?"

"For harm, lord."

"And this greedy person, overcome by greed, his mind possessed by greed, kills living beings, takes what is not given, goes after another person's wife, tells lies, and induces others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term harm & suffering."

"Yes, lord."

"Now, what do you think, Kalamas? When aversion arises in a person, does it arise for welfare or for harm?"

"For harm, lord."

"And this aversive person, overcome by aversion, his mind possessed by aversion, kills living beings, takes what is not given, goes after another person's wife, tells lies, and induces others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term harm & suffering."

"Yes, lord."

"Now, what do you think, Kalamas? When delusion arises in a person, does it arise for welfare or for harm?"

"For harm, lord."

"And this deluded person, overcome by delusion, his mind possessed by delusion, kills living beings, takes what is not given, goes after another person's wife, tells lies, and induces others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term harm & suffering."

"Yes, lord."

"So what do you think, Kalamas: Are these qualities skillful or unskillful?"

"Unskillful, lord."

"Blameworthy or blameless?"

"Blameworthy, lord."

"Criticized by the wise or praised by the wise?"

"Criticized by the wise, lord."

"When adopted & carried out, do they lead to harm & to suffering, or not?"

"When adopted & carried out, they lead to harm & to suffering. That is how it appears to us."

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them.

"What do you think, Kalamas? When lack of greed arises in a person, does it arise for welfare or for harm?"

"For welfare, lord."

"And this ungreedy person, not overcome by greed, his mind not possessed by greed, doesn't kill living beings, take what is not given, go after another person's wife, tell lies, or induce others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term welfare & happiness."

"Yes, lord."

"What do you think, Kalamas? When lack of aversion arises in a person, does it arise for welfare or for harm?"

"For welfare, lord."

"And this unaversive person, not overcome by aversion, his mind not possessed by aversion, doesn't kill living beings, take what is not given, go after another person's wife, tell lies, or induce others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term welfare & happiness."

"Yes, lord."

"What do you think, Kalamas? When lack of delusion arises in a person, does it arise for welfare or for harm?"

"For welfare, lord."

"And this undeluded person, not overcome by delusion, his mind not possessed by delusion, doesn't kill living beings, take what is not given, go after another person's wife, tell lies, or induce others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term welfare & happiness."

"Yes, lord."

"So what do you think, Kalamas: Are these qualities skillful or unskillful?"

"Skillful, lord."

"Blameworthy or blameless?"

"Blameless, lord."

"Criticized by the wise or praised by the wise?"

"Praised by the wise, lord."

"When adopted & carried out, do they lead to welfare & to happiness, or not?"

"When adopted & carried out, they lead to welfare & to happiness. That is how it appears to us."

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness" — then you should enter & remain in them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, one who is a disciple of the noble ones — thus devoid of greed, devoid of ill will, undeluded, alert, & resolute — keeps pervading the first direction [the east] — as well as the second direction, the third, & the fourth — with an awareness imbued with good will. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, & all around, everywhere & in every respect the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with good will: abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.

"He keeps pervading the first direction — as well as the second direction, the third, & the fourth — with an awareness imbued with compassion. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, & all around, everywhere & in every respect the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with compassion: abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.

"He keeps pervading the first direction — as well as the second direction, the third, & the fourth — with an awareness imbued with appreciation. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, & all around, everywhere & in every respect the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with appreciation: abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.

"He keeps pervading the first direction — as well as the second direction, the third, & the fourth — with an awareness imbued with equanimity. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, & all around, everywhere & in every respect the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with equanimity: abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.

"Now, Kalamas, one who is a disciple of the noble ones — his mind thus free from hostility, free from ill will, undefiled, & pure — acquires four assurances in the here-&-now:

"'If there is a world after death, if there is the fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then this is the basis by which, with the break-up of the body, after death, I will reappear in a good destination, the heavenly world.' This is the first assurance he acquires.

"'But if there is no world after death, if there is no fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then here in the present life I look after myself with ease — free from hostility, free from ill will, free from trouble.' This is the second assurance he acquires.

"'If evil is done through acting, still I have willed no evil for anyone. Having done no evil action, from where will suffering touch me?' This is the third assurance he acquires.

"'But if no evil is done through acting, then I can assume myself pure in both respects.' This is the fourth assurance he acquires.

"One who is a disciple of the noble ones — his mind thus free from hostility, free from ill will, undefiled, & pure — acquires these four assurances in the here-&-now."

"So it is, Blessed One. So it is, O One Well-gone. One who is a disciple of the noble ones — his mind thus free from hostility, free from ill will, undefiled, & pure — acquires four assurances in the here-&-now:

"'If there is a world after death, if there is the fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then this is the basis by which, with the break-up of the body, after death, I will reappear in a good destination, the heavenly world.' This is the first assurance he acquires.

"'But if there is no world after death, if there is no fruit of actions rightly & wrongly done, then here in the present life I look after myself with ease — free from hostility, free from ill will, free from trouble.' This is the second assurance he acquires.

"'If evil is done through acting, still I have willed no evil for anyone. Having done no evil action, from where will suffering touch me?' This is the third assurance he acquires.

"'But if no evil is done through acting, then I can assume myself pure in both ways.' This is the fourth assurance he acquires.

"One who is a disciple of the noble ones — his mind thus free from hostility, free from ill will, undefiled, & pure — acquires these four assurances in the here-&-now.
 
oneday

oneday

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But as far as I can see, all one ever does - all one is ever able to do - is follow one's own sense of right and wrong, however much we back it up by some piece of 'authoritative' text, or say that we're following the will of some greater, wiser, being. In the final analysis we follow that because we/I think it's the right thing to do, we/I think that's the wisest course of action. That's a given of human existence - we/I have to choose. (?)
 
Parayana

Parayana

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Killing the Buddha is essentially a statement of non-attachment when one reaches the stage of Anagami on the Theravada path in case your interested if nothing else it might come up in the pub quiz or something. :D
 
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