Reflections Upon Three Buddhist Themes

Buddhism is about everything, and it is about nothing.  The readings cover varied and various aspects of Buddhism that I have read in the past, and these also delve more deeply.  Dewit ‘s “inner flourishing,” Suzuki’s “wisdom and knowledge,” Karr’s stages of “awareness, ” Salzburg’s “loveliness,” Rahula’s personal realization of “Truth, ”Hanh’s “open”-ness, and Wallace’s “directed attention” are not independent, but they are divisions of one purpose or they seem to be divisions of one subject.

There are three stages of significance, rather than three themes in these readings. These stages may be divided into further stages along a path of evolutionary and revolutionary growth, but as everything is connected, these are all connected.  At the beginning of this journey into Buddhist psychology, what is needed is an acceptance of true openness, to accept viewpoints and ideas that are different and unfamiliar.

“Open-mindedness, which is the fruit of mindfulness, forms the basis for the disciplines of insight.” (De Wit 2001: 17) This allows the inner flourishing, that glow that some can see in others, but seldom in themselves, to occur, to discover what appears naturally. Further, Hanh reveals, “ A teacher cannot give you truth. The truth is already in you.  You only need to open yourself . . . .” (Hanh 1998:  12).  This supports Suzuki’s revelation that knowledge is the equivalent of book learning but not experience, that true wisdom is the realization that one knows nothing.  One who stays open with an “original mind” is an “empty mind and a ready mind” (Suzuki 1970: 21).  Karr elaborates this open-ness as awareness of listening, contemplating and meditating upon peace and insight into what is self and phenomenal reality (Karr 2007:  10-12).

“The spirit of metta is unconditional:  open and unobstructed.” “Metta is the ability to embrace all parts of ourselves, as well as all parts of the world.” (Salzburg 2004: 19, 23).  It is love of everything, the bad and the good in everything and everyone, even ourselves.  The open-ness of unconditional love is a power that can uproot negativity within each of us.  Wallace emphasizes the open-ness of “your awareness to the entire field of sensations throughout the body, especially those related to respiration.” (Wallace 2006:  19).  This open-ness and lovingkindness, the evolutionary love of one’s and the world’s humanity, are one.  One cannot exist without the other.  But how does one accept the love and open-ness of humanity with the evil that exists in the world, evil that exists to either deliberately or apathetically exists to harm humanity, whether it is sexism, racism, or holocaust of one form or another? This is a question that deserves discussion.

This is a simple but continuous process that utilizes knowledge and wisdom. In Rahula, the Buddha explains enlightenment, “’The eye was born, knowledge was born, wisdom was born, . . . . .’ It is always seeing through knowledge or wisdom (nana-dassana), and not believing through faith.  (Rahula 1974:  9).  Elsewhere, the Buddha uses a simile where “his teaching is compared to a raft for crossing over, and not for getting hold of and carrying on one’s back.” (Rahula 1974:  11).  Each of us uses a different vehicle to get across in a spiritually evolutionary practice that is entirely individual, but once they have reached the other side, attachment to that vehicle is no longer needed.  Everything and everyone is connected.  While each of these authors see things as each of us see things in our own ways, our ideas are connected, helping each of us process and proceed to our own enlightenment.

References

De Wit, H. (March 2001). The Case for Contemplative Psychology. Shambhala Sun. Retrieved from http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2388

Suzuki, S. (1970). Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (Prologue). Retrieved from http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/zenmind.pdf

Karr, A. (2007). Chapters One and Two in Contemplating Reality: A Practitioner’s Guide to the View in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. Shambhala Publications.

Salzberg, S. (2004). Chapters One and Two in Lovingkindness: The revolutionary art of happiness. Shambhala Publications.

Rahula, W. (1974). What the Buddha taught. New York: Grove Press.
Thich Nhat Hanh. The heart of the Buddha’s teaching. (1999). New York: Broadway 
Books.

Thich Nhat Hanh. (1988). The heart of understanding: Commentaries on the 
Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

Wallace, B. A. (2006). The attention revolution: Unlocking the power of the focused 
mind (1st ed.). Boston: Wisdom Publications.

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