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By striving with the "fourfold, just endeavor" and by using these instruments of defense, the personality-the extrasamsāric element appearing in the personality-is gradually integrated by a fourfold strength, to which corresponds, in the texts, the technical term cattāro iddhipādā. We have, in the first place, the power that confirms the renunciation in its aspect of detachment from every form of desire, with the pure element of "will" giving support. In the second place we have the power of inflex­ibility, of perseverance in training, of paying no attention to defeats, of being able to start again with renewed energy. In the third place there is the power of supporting the mind, of recollecting it, of unifying it, of defending it both from states of exalta­tion and from states of depression, states that, on a path like this, could be entirely avoided only with the greatest difficulty. Finally there is the power of "perception," to be understood as a kind of intellectual integration of the preceding one such that it becomes impossible for the mind to accept false or vain theories. This fourfold power is to some extent summed up by a text we have already quoted: "and he [the ascetic] reaches the admirable path discovered by the intensity, the constancy and the con­centration of the will, by the intensity, the constancy and the concentration of the energy, by the intensity, the constancy and the concentration of the mind, by the intensity, the constancy and the concentration of investigation-with a heroic spirit as the fifth." The term iddhi (Skt.: siddhi) normally refers to powers of a supernormal character. Here it must he understood especially in relation to energies that are associated with warlike discipline-hatthisippādīni-without forgetting, however, that, on the path of awakening at least, we are dealing at the same time with forces on which the bodhi or panna element confers a quality that is not only human and that is not comparable to any that samsāra can offer, since it contains something of the "incomparable sureness" (anuttarassa yogakkhemassa).

40. Angutt.. 2.6.6.

41.Majjh.,16.

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10
Rightness



We must now deal with ,sīla, that is to say, with "right conduct," which is comple­mentary to the disciplines we have discussed, insofar as they lead to consolidation of the spirit. We are translating the term samma, which figures as the general attribute of the virtues included in the so-called eightfold path of the Ariya (ariya atthangika magga) by "upright" or "right" because of the intrinsic evocative power of this word: upright is the position of things that stand, as opposed to that of things that have been knocked over or have fallen. In primordial symbolism the upright position, repre­sented by the vertical I, belongs to virility and fire, while the horizontal position.-, corresponds to the feminine element and to the "waters." Thus, by "rightness" we must understand more than an accepted morality: it is rather an internal mode, a capacity for standing fast at all times without deviating or wavering, by eliminating every trace of tortuousness. The only point of reference here is, fundamentally, one-self: the "virtues" are essentially so many duties to oneself that the reawakened interior sensibility brings to light: but once they have been put into practice, they encourage, strengthen, and establish a state of calm. of transparency of mind and of spirit, of balance and of "justice" by which every other discipline or technique is made easier.

We have already said that there is a complete absence of any moralistic mythol­ogy in Buddhism, since it is a creation of the pure Aryan spirit. Moralistic and moral­izing obsession is another of the signs of the low level of the modern world. It is even thought now that religions only exist in order to support moral precepts; precepts that, incidentally, only tend to chain the human animal socially. This attitude is in-deed an aberration. The fact is, and we must state it categorically, that every moral system, in itself, is completely void of any spiritual value. In the traditional world, each ethical system drew its true justification from a supramundane purpose (which

1I8

must not be unthinkingly considered as being a kind of do ut des, or as being inspired by the idea of sanctions or rewards that await the soul after death) and from the objective and impersonal fact that to follow or not to follow a particular line of con-duct produces corresponding modifications in the essential nature of the individual. Morality, as it is thought of today, is only secularized religion and, as such, purely contingent; this is so much the case, that we are almost always forced to refer, in order to justify it, to the factual conditions of a particular historical society. But even on this level the words of one Buddhist text that discusses the order of bhikkhus are still valid: that when beings deteriorate and the true doctrine decays then there are more rules and fewer men live steadfastly.'



In Buddhism then, as in every truly traditional teaching, ethics have a purely instrumental value and are therefore conditioned. They are not imposed on anyone: they are advocated purely from the point of view of knowledge. It is a question of knowing objectively what effect on the human being will result from following or not following certain principles and, having discovered this, of behaving accordingly. There is a context that clearly states the matter: "The fire has never thought, `I wish to destroy the foolish man'-but the foolish man who wishes to embrace the burning lire destroys himself."2 We must speak, then, of stupidity or foolishness, and not of "sin"; of knowledge, and not of "good" and "evil." We have already quoted the Buddhist simile of the raft: as a man once he has crossed a river, will leave behind the raft that was built for that purpose. so we must leave behind the reference points of "good and evil" that served to encourage right conduct, once this conduct has been achieved. That the world of true spirituality has nothing to do with "good and evil" was also, moreover, a basic concept in the preceding lndo-Aryan tradition.

Having made this clear, let us now consider the various parts of sila. SiIa is divided into three grades. The lowest, cudo -sīla, prescribes a mode of conduct that is expressed by this fixed canonical formula:

(I) [The ascetic] has ceased from killing, he keeps himself far from killing. Without a staff, without a sword, tender-hearted, full of sympa­thy, he inculcates love and compassion for all living beings. (2) He has ceased taking what is not given, he keeps himself far from taking what is not given. He does not take what is not given him, he accepts only what is given, without thought of theft, with a heart become pure. (31 He has ceased from lust, he lives chaste, faithful to his renunciation, far from the vulgar habit of copulation. (4) He has ceased from lying. he


  1. Majjh.. 65.

  2. Ibid., 50.

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keeps himself far from falsehood. He tells the truth, he is devoted to the truth, upright, trustworthy, neither hypocrite nor flatterer of the world. (5) He has ceased from malicious speaking, he holds himself far from malicious speaking. What he has heard here he does not repeat there, and what he has heard there he does not repeat here, and thus divide one person from another. He joins the divided, he rejoices in agree­ment, his words unite, (6) He has ceased from rough words. he holds himself tar from rough words. Words that are without offense, cordial and urbane that delight. many. that encourage many: such words he speaks. (7) He has ceased from idle words. He speaks in due time. according to fact, careful of his meaning, with a discourse full of con-tent, adorned on occasion with similes, clear and pertinent, adequate for its purpose)
In connection with not taking what is not given, another text adds: "not even a blade of grass" and gives this simile: "as a leaf plucked from a branch cannot again become green, so a disciple who takes what is not given is not an ascetic and is not a follower of the son of the Sākya."4 Elsewhere, a characteristic example is cited: that of a man who sees a gold coin on the ground and who neither picks it up nor pays any attention to it. Referring to sexual abstinence, this other simile is given: "As a man whose head has been cut off cannot continue to live amongst others with only his trunk, so one who does not practise sexual abstinence is not an ascetic and is not a follower of the son of the Sākya."5 Finally, one who intentionally takes the life of another is likened to a block that has been split in half and cannot be put together again.°

All this constitutes the "lower sīla." The precepts of majjhima-sīla or the "middle sīla" deal with a kind of spartanization of life: reduction of needs, cutting away of the bond formed by a life of comfort, with particular reference to eating, sleeping, and drowsing. There are also precepts that come under the heading of a "departure," of a physical or literal leaving of the world: for example, avoidance of business or undertakings, nonacceptance of gifts, abandonment of possessions and refusal to assume fresh ones, and so on, Included in this part of "right conduct" is abstention from dilectical discussions and speculation-this takes us back to the neutralization of the demon of intellectualism (cf. p. 38).

The last part of right discipline, maha-sīla, concerns not only abstention from practicing divination, astrology, or mere magic, but also from abandoning oneself to

3. Digha, 1.1.8 ff.


  1. Mahavagga (Vin), 1.78.3.

  2. Ibid., 1.78.2.

  3. Ibid., t.78.4.

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the cult of some divinity or other. One can therefore speak in some measure of sur­mounting the bond of religion in the sense of a bond that makes one lead the saintly life with the notion: "By means of these rites, vows, mortifications, or renunciations I wish to become a god or a divine being." But it is evident that this includes some elements that are supposed to have been already removed in the determination of the vocations.'

In any case, it will be as well to discuss the elements of "right conduct" as a whole, so that we may see them in perspective. It is clear that some refer exclusively to an absolute form of "departure." that is to say, of a material as well as a purely interior or spiritual detachment from the world; that is to say, to the asceticism of the monk or anchorite. The degree to which they are strictly to be observed today de­pends, then, on what each individual may decide is necessary. A good number of the elements of the middle and higher sila can, however, be applied with simple adapta­tion to an asceticism that is practicable to some extent in the "world": thus, the pre­cepts dealing with astrology, divination, and the like, could easily refer to the mod-em debased practices of like nature in the form of "occultism," spiritualism, and so on. Measured with the ideal of awakening all this has thus the character of a danger­ous straying.8

Of greater importance are the precepts of "right conduct" that belong to the lower sīla. They are widely applicable, independent of particular historical condi­tions. And that some of them clearly correspond to the principles of Ariyan morality, to the morality of a well-born man, is plain enough. The following may be taken as a general maxim of sīla: "Though I be hurled head down into the infernal regions, I will do nothing that is ignoble."9 Such is the case, in the first place, with the precept of not taking what is not given-"not even a blade of grass"-of wholly eliminating all intention to steal. Among the ancient Aryan peoples theft was considered a much graver offense than it is today, since they had in mind the inward rather than the material and "social" aspect of the matter. For this reason there is no question of degree: as regards taking what is not given, it is just as dishonorable to do so by taking a cigarette from a companion-to refer to modern times- or a paper from one's office, as it is to stage a full-scale bank robbery and carry off a large sum of money.

n the second place, the rule of speaking the truth, the absolute inability to lie, is specifically Aryan. Nothing, among the Aryan people, was considered so ignomini­ous and degrading as falsehood, especially from the point of one's own relations with oneself and of the duties that one owes first and foremost to one's self and to


  1. Digha. 1.1.8 ff.

  2. Cf. J. Evola, Maschera e voIto dello spiritualismo contemporaneo, 2nd edn. (Bari, 1949).

  3. Jataka, 40.

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one's own interior dignity. "In one who has no shame in conscious falsehood, no evil thing is impossible"-so runs a text-whence the firm determination of the ascetic: "Not even for a joke will I lie"; this is the exact equivalent of the saying attributed by Western Aryan antiquity to the figure of Epaminondas: ne joco quidem mentiebatur. In this text there is also a simile: only when a man has made up his mind can he be said to be committed definitely, just as when it is seen that a royal elephant that has been trained for battle is using his trunk one can say: "This royal elephant has re­nounced his life: nothing is now impossible for the royal elephant."10 Another text: "I would not tell a falsehood even if the mountains were moved by the wind, even if the moon and sun were to fall to earth and the rivers were to run backward." This, in fact, is an essential point in all practice of rightness, it is essential for the man who would be upright and integral, not tortuous, not oblique, not masked. In an Aryo-Persian text it is even said that killing is not as serious as lying.

Avoidance of malicious speaking needs no special comment. Whether we give vent. to rough words or not obviously depends on the degree to which we allow other people to put us in a temper, to reach our spirit and wound it as if it can be wounded. It is, then, essentially a problem of interior mastery and of awareness. Besides, only an individual who is not carried away by anger or irritated by insults can succeed in putting a presumptuous man in his place. Buddhism, indeed, would agree with the ancient Roman maxim that it is better to suffer an injustice than to commit one, that one should not react to evil by producing more evil in one's turn. These precepts are essentially designed to overcome the bond of the personality, and we shall return shortly to a discussion of their interpretation when we come to deal with the precept against killing. They are valid, naturally, for the practice of asceticism and not for life in the world.

Control of the tongue is emphasized and the absolute elimination of all useless, disordered, hasty, inconclusive, indefinite, illogical, or empty speech. There is some-thing of the classical style here in speech that is suited to the subject, sober, clear and determined, timely, free from effusions and uncontrolled expansiveness; something of the style of Tacitus. t is with silence that Prince Siddhattha often replies. Little streams of water-it is said12-make a noise between their steep and narrrow hanks: the vast ocean, instead, is silent. "He who is insufficient makes a noise; he who is complete in himself is calm." We shall see that an Accomplished One maintains a similar style in his gestures and behavior.

One of the aims of situ is to create a state of harmony and equilibrium both with oneself and with the outside world. This is how we must interpret the precepts of


  1. Majjh., 61.

  2. Jataka.

  3. Suttanipata, 3.11.42-3.

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cordiality, of abstention from malicious speaking, of not contributing to the creation of discords, of contributing instead to the uniting of those who are disunited. This leads to the precept of not killing intentionally, a precept that, in the later forms of Buddhism, became much exaggerated-the respect for life was extended to even worms and insects. Originally, however, it referred particularly to the killing of hu­man beings. However, even with this limitation, some people wish to interpret this precept as a kind of humanitarianism, little in harmony with the spirit of the Aryan Khattiya, or warrior tradition; a tradition to which Prince Siddhattha had belonged, and which, in the Bhagavadgitā produced an entirely metaphysical justification for the heroism that spares neither one's own life nor the life of others in a just war. The fact is that this precept of not killing must he understood as having a particular inte­rior and ascetic aim; and therefore, like all the others, it has only a conditioned value. Already on the plane of sīla a certain impersonalization and universalization of the "I" is to be aimed at. When one has to do with other people one must try to anticipate the state of consciousness in which another person is felt as being oneself, not in the Christian, humanitarian, or democratic sense, however, but with reference to a su­perindividual consciousness. Seen from this height it becomes evident that "I" is one of the many forms that, in certain conditions, may variously clothe the extrasamsaric principle; a principle that may appear in the person of this or that being and there become manifest. We are dealing, then, with something very different from the re­spect of one "creature" for another "creature." The other "creature" is considered, instead, from a higher point of view, from the point of view of a "totality." This being so, it would obviously he abnormal to act or react against a part unless one felt oneself to be only a part. For this reason, the precept of not killing and of not causing others to kill is associated, in a text13 with the formula of identification: "As I am, so arc they, as they are, so am 1" and we have already quoted the simile of the split block for one who kills. Again, we arc simply dealing with a discipline that may produce an orientation of pragmatic value and subordinate to the higher aim_ This same significance will be found again both in the "fourfold irradiant contemplation," which also includes love, and also when we come to discuss pubbe-nivāsa-nana, that is to say, superindividual insight that penetrates multiple existences.

The last of the precepts of the cula-sīla, that which relates to chastity, leads us to a short discussion of the sexual problem. Its solutions vary according to the degree of absoluteness to which ascetic practice is to be carried. Originally in Buddhism, for those who were not, properly speaking, bhikkhus but only "followers," only adultery was forbidden. Regarding adultery we must not forget that in the Aryan East every man belonging to a higher caste had several women at his disposal, but whose status
13. Sittanipāta, 3.11.27.

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was really more that of objects of use than "wives" in the Western sense, especially with those "ladies" or "life companions" who nevertheless allow themselves today to take the initiative and gain emancipation or divorce. In this state of affairs adul­tery simply came under the heading of taking what was not given and as such was considered to be dishonest.

More generally, as regards relations between the two sexes, it is evident that one who wishes to achieve the basic condition for awakening, that is to say, calm detachment and interior sufficiency, must train himself in such a manner that he will continually feel less need of a woman. The physical need, to some extent, is still allowable, like that of eating or of other animal functions. It is the "spiritual" need that must be eliminated at an early stage, since this affects a much deeper element that has nothing to do with the body and since it testifies to deficiency and to incon­sistency of spirit. The danger that a woman represents, particularly today, is not so much her female aspect as the fact that she encourages the need for support, for reliance upon someone else who may be a weak soul unable to find in himself a meaning for his life. A story is told of the men who were searching for a fleeing woman and who were asked by the Buddha: "What think you, 0 youths, which is better for you, that you seek a woman or your selves?" The reply is; "For us, Lord, it is better that we go in search of our selves." And the Buddha says: "If that is so, 0 youths, seat yourselves, and I will expound the doctrine for you."14 The same Indo-Aryan tradition records a saying attributed to a yogin, an ascetic: "What need have I of an external woman? I have an internal woman within me"-meaning that he had within himself the element of self-completion, of fulfillment, an element that the common man confusedly seeks, instead, in woman.15 In this respect too we find our-selves today in completely abnormal conditions. Modern men mostly little know what spiritual virility and internal sufficiency mean; through "soul" and "sentiment" they descend to the level of women who, often enough today, and without appearing to he so, are the directors of man's life.

The precept of chastity must he considered on a higher level of the discipline. In Buddhism, as in all really traditional teaching, it has a purely technical justification. Only religions noticeably affected by the Semitic spirit have carnal ethics; this is now so much the ease that sexual matters have almost become the measure of sin and virtue. And Buddhist texts opportunely censure incomplete, impure, and murky forms of chastity, including that followed by those who aim at a celestial world.' The precept of chastity for those who follow the path of awakening with all their energies has nothing to do with such an order of things; it has the transcendental

14. Mahāvagga (Vin.), 1.14.2-3.



15. Cf our work The Yoga of Power.
16. Angutt., 7.47.

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,justification, which takes us beyond the field of sila, of "right conduct" pure and simple. The fact is that, in a being subject to "craving," sexual energy is, in some ways, the radical energy. Through it one enters samsaric life and through it the life-spark of one being is lit by another. The ancient esoteric teachings therefore consid­ered that the suspension and change of polarity of this force was a fundamental condition for effectually "stopping the current" and "reversing it." In fact, there even existed a precise and direct technique for acting on the force that normally appears as sexual energy and sexual desire, and for diverting it to another state where it could serve as the basis for a birth, not in time, but in what is beyond time.17 There is no mention at least in original Buddhism-of such direct methods that have a con­nection and with Dionysism and sexual magic. It can be said, however, that the whole Buddhist ascesis is a process that will itself act in this way on the sexual energy, now no longer dissipated thanks to the discipline of chastity.

In speaking of sexual abstinence we must not, however, forget the Buddhist precept of the gradualness of each aspect of discipline, nor the simile of the serpent that twists round and bites if it is not grasped in the correct manner. Christian mysti­cism provides good examples of the lethal effects that are produced by a unilateral and unenlightened suppression of every sex impulse. These are the energies that, when they are simply repressed-verdrangt, to use the classical term of the psycho­analysts-pass, reinforced, into the subconscious and produce all sorts of upsets, hysteria, and anxieties. We must never act "dictatorially" in dealing with such mat­ters, but always by degrees, so that every achievement is of an organic nature, gradu­ally increasing. Equally, we must beware of unconscious "transpositions" of the sexual impulses, of the system of compensations and supercompensations to which they may give rise, thereby fooling the conscious mind that wrongly believed it had gained mastery through a mere veto. This last observation will also serve to put us on our guard against the exclusively psychoanalytical and Freudian interpretation that, in dealing with sexual impulses and, in general, the libido, admits of no other action than either "repression" ( Verdrangung) that creates hysteria and neuroses, or alter-natively "transposition" and "sublimation." A high ascesis is neither one nor the other, and we must be very careful that during development we maintain a just bal­ance and that the central force, spiritually virile and awakened and strengthened by the various disciplines, gradually absorbs the whole of the energies that call for ex­pression once the road to animal generation is barred. Only one who feels that the interior process is developing in this manner can keep without danger the precept of complete sexual abstinence. Otherwise it is far better to wait than to force the pace

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