This text will contain errors even though I spent at least a few minutes on each page trying to correct major errors such as Sanskrit names



Download 1.64 Mb.
Page17/30
Date conversion29.04.2016
Size1.64 Mb.
1   ...   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   ...   30

17.This is, for example, the sense of the so-called kundalini-yoga and of the Tantric pancatattva with Tantric maithuna, on which cf. The Yoga of Power.

125


always provided that we are not being misled by pretexts provided for the conscious personality by the entity of craving. How important it is to divert the basic energy of life from subjection to the samsaric law of craving and thirst, which is clearly domi­nant in the field of sex, is clearly illustrated, moreover, by the Buddhist simile that states that one who does not keep this precept of sīla is like a man who would try to go on living among others with his head cut off.

A particular rule of si/a, of which we have not yet spoken, is abstention from "strong" or intoxicating substances, especially from alcoholic drinks," This precept, too, has a technical origin. Such substances produce a state of inebriation that, in the case of ancient man rather than in the man of today, might even produce a favorable condition when the accompanying "exaltation" (piti) was made to act in the right way. This would, however, he a "conditioned" exaltation that would harm the "I

where one's own energy ought to have acted an exterior force has intervened, so that the corresponding state is infected, fundamentally and from the outset, by renuncia­tion of initiative and passivity. Somehow or another, a "debt" has been created and we find ourselves bound by an obscure "pact"-this is a thing that happens, thought() a greater extent in all forms of what is known as ceremonial magic. Both in ndia, in the case of Tantrism, and in the West, among the pre-Orphic Dionysians, the possi­bility was considered of mingling activity and passivity in a state of exaltation (not unrelated to the sexual energies), and this was carried to a point where, by means of ecstasy, the antecedents became of no further account.19 Such methods, however, would not befit the path of clear and "Olympian" ascesis that the teaching of original Buddhism represents.

As we are examining these elements whose power sīla, as a whole, should diminish, we will take this opportunity of referring to the theory of the five bonds that plays an important part in the Buddhist teaching, particularly as regards the various degrees of achievement and their consequences. These bonds, which bind the "igno­rant common man, insensible to what is Ariya, remote from the doctrine of the Ariya, inaccessible by the doctrine of the Ariya," arc: firstly, attachment to the "I," the illusion of individualism (attanditthi or sakkāyaditthi);20 secondly, doubt (vicikicchā), doubt regarding the doctrine and the Master, and also, more generally, about the past or the future;21 it is also doubt about the vocation existing in oneself, the road that one is following and what may result from the states of aridity, depression, and

It. Cf.. e.g.. Mahavagga (Vin.), 1.56


  1. We have also spoken of these rituals in our honk. The Yoga of Power. 'They were used in that farm of

Tantric Buddhism known as vajra-yana. "the road of the diamond and of the lightning."

  1. The term sakkaya may possibly derive front sat-kaya. which deals with the illusion of a man who believes

that the person insofar as it consists of the body is a reality (sat).

21. Dhamma-sangani, 1004.

126


nostalgia, which are inevitable in the early phases of a life of detachment; thirdly, belief in the efficacy of simple conformity, of rites and ceremonies (sīlubbata-parāmasa);22 fourthly, sexual desire and all bodily pleasure and craving (kāma or raga); finally, there is ill will, aversion (patigha). If they are not neutralized, if they are strengthened through conduct dominated by "ignorance," these bonds "lead down-ward" toward the lowest and darkest forms of samsāric existence?23 As we have said, at this stage it is a matter of limiting the power of these negative inclinations in their more external and immediate forms. Their complete annihilation occurs in more advanced stages of the ascesis, where the "five bonds" appear related to the so-called "five impurities of the spirit" (cf. p. 141).

As for the positive side of the general work of consolidation and its develop­ments, we have the well-known and rather stereotyped formula of the eightfold path of the Ariya (ariya atthangika magga). This deals with eight virtues, to each of which is applied the term sammā, "right," a term to be understood mainly in the sense we have already indicated, that is to say, as the attribute of one who "stands," who holds himself erect, as opposed to the oblique or horizontal direction of those who "are driven." First: right vision, which consists of keeping in sight the "four truths," of being aware both of the contingency of existence and of the way in which, by follow­ing a particular method, it can he overcome. Second: right intention (in Pāli, sammasankappo), which refers to active determination, volition, or desire, and is, therefore, the determination of one who opposes the "flux" and who proceeds on the upward path. Third: right speech, which is inflexible sincerity, open speech, ab­stention from malicious words and gossip, as has already been stated. Fourth: right conduct, which is conduct conforming to the aforesaid precepts of not taking what is not given, of not killing intentionally, of abstinence from lust. Fifth: right life, which is a fife supported by blameless means, is sober and avoids pampering, extrava­gance, and luxury. Sixth: right effort, which is interpreted essentially as the "four just endeavours" (cf. p. 110). Seventh: right meditation, of which we shall speak later as it deals essentially with what is known as "perpetual clear consciousness" (cf. p. 131-32). The term used here is sammāsari. Sari literally means "memory," that is to say, continual practice of mindfulness of oneself; and of self-awareness. Eighth: right contemplation, which brings us to the "samādhi"section with which we shall deal later (p. 146), since it is essentially concerned with the four jhāna, by which the catharsis leads to the limit of conditioned consciousness.24




  1. Ibid, 1005 specifies thus. "It is the theory, held by ascetics and priests foreign to our doctrine, which claims that purification is achieved by precepts of conduct, or by rites, or by precepts of conduct and rites."

  2. Majjh., 64.

  3. Cf.. e g. Dīgha, 22.21.

127

t can be seen that this formula serves as a schematic representation. Returning to sīla, we sec that it aims at further consolidation: it eliminates much material that might rekindle and reestablish the samsāric flame. The "virtues" of sīla are said to be "praised by the Ariya, inflexible, integral, immaculate, unsullied, conferring lib­erty, appreciated by the intelligent; virtues that are inaccessible [by craving and delusion. that lead to concentration of the mind."25 The fixed formula that, in the canonical texts, accompanies the exposition of sīla is: "With the accomplishment of these noble precepts of virtue [the ascetic] feels an intimate, immaculate joy." When this feeling arises it must be mastered, fixed and established, as it is a precious foundation for further progress. This is naturally not possible without a precise effort. But, in this respect. Buddhism has further instruments of defense by prevention.

The texts speak, for example, of the conditions for achieving power over the body and over the mind. The principle is that pleasant feeling that arises in the body binds the mind through the impotence of the body; painful feeling, however, hinds the mind through the impotence. of the mind itself. Experiencing a pleasant feeling. "the ignorant common man craves for pleasure, falls a prey to craving for plea­sure"-and it is here that one must intervene and bar the way leading from the body, not in the sense of excluding the pleasant feeling, but of preventing it from binding one and carrying one away. Thus the impotence of the body is remedied. When painful feeling arises, such a man "becomes sad and overwhelmed, he laments and falls a prey to despair." Here one must act directly on the mind, for it is now the mind that shows itself to be impotent. In this way one begins to gain power over both the body and the mind, and interior balance is strengthened.

This form of effort . is more successful when aided by the necessary discipline. A particular experience may provoke pleasant feeling, unpleasant feeling, or feeling that is neither unpleasant nor pleasant. This is how one must then train oneself: "Let me, during what is unpleasant, remain with a pleasant perception," or: "Let me, during what is pleasant, remain with an unpleasant perception," or lastly: "Pleasant and unpleasant, avoiding the one and the other, let me remain indifferent, collected, present to myself."26 A variation of the same discipline concerns the repugnant and the attractive. From time to time one should consider the attractive as repugnant. in order to lessen desire or inclination (for places, foods, person, etc.); and the repug­nant as attractive (in order to allay feelings of repulsion, irritation, or intolerance); and what is neither repugnant nor attractive as either repugnant or attractive; and, finally, one should be able to maintain a balanced, watchful mind, aware of oneself above states of either kind." Any real progress in such disciplines naturally depends



  1. Angutt., 3.70; Samyutt.. 40.10.

  2. Majjh., 36.152.

  3. Samyutt., 54.8.

128

upon all aspects as a whole and, above all, upon exercises aiming directly at nonidentification, which we shall now consider.

In a commentary on the Anguttara-nikāya28 we read: "When confidence is tied to vision and vision to confidence, when the will is joined to concentration and con­centration to the will, the balance of the forces can be considered as achieved. Self-awareness [sari] is, however, essential always. It must always be energetically cul­tivated." The discipline called satipatthāna aims at this in particular.

28. Angutt., 6.55. Also on p. 86 of the edition of Die Reden des Buddhas by Nyānaliloka (Munich, 1922-23).

129

11
Sidereal Awareness: The Wounds Close



The term satipatthāna is made up of the word sari, which we have already explained as memory, or self-awareness, and pattana, which means "to construct," "set up," "establish." In English this term is normally translated by "setting-up of mindful­ness" (Rhys Davids), and in German by Pfeiler der Geistesklarheit -whence the expression used by de Lorenzo: pilastri del sapere (pillars of knowledge-in the sense of self-knowledge). The whole formula of the text is: parimukham satim upaţţhapeti,1 which could he rendered thus: "to place the memory of oneself before oneself." The aim of the discipline with which we shall now deal is. in fact, to begin to disengage the central principle of one's own being by means of an objective and detached consideration, both of what makes up one's own personality and also of the general content of one's own experience. The very fact of standing apart from all this, as if it were something external or foreign, purifies and stimulates the con­sciousness, brings one back to oneself and further develops impassive calm. In this sense the four principal groups of objects that are considered in this discipline serve as so many supports for "knowledge"; they represent something solid for a reaction leading to an unfettering of oneself, to a return to oneself. The four groups of the satipatthāna refer to the body (kāya), to the emotions or feelings (vedana), to the mind (cilia), and lastly to the dhammā, a general term that here includes phenomena and states brought about by the ascetic discipline itself in its higher stages.

1. Contemplation of the body. To quote the canonical formula, the ascetic, after overcoming the cares and desires of the world, devotes himself in the first place "with a mind clear and fully conscious" to contemplation of the body. This procedure is carried out in various stages.

(a) To begin with, the ascetic practices conscious breathing or self-awareness

1. Digha. 22.2.



130

while breathing (ānāpāna-sati); this is said to be one of the most rapid methods of attaining unshakable calm.' The ascetic must choose a quiet and secluded place and there practice consciousness of breathing in and out. He breathes in deeply and knows: "I am breathing in deeply," he breathes out deeply and knows: "I am breathing out deeply"; he does the same with short breaths. He then practices thus: "I wish to breathe in feeling the whole body," "I wish to breathe out feeling the whole body," "I wish to breathe in calming this bodily combination."" I wish to breathe out calming this bodily combination." And so on. A simile that shows what a perfect awareness is required in this exercise states: just as an expert and careful turner, when turning quickly, knows; "I am turning quickly," and. when turning slowly, knows: "1 am turning slowly,"3

Exercises of this kind are particularly important since, according to the lndo-Aryan teaching, breathing is connected with the subtle force of life-pi-aria-that forms a substratum to all the psychophysical functions of a man. The whole organism is animated and pervaded by subtle currents----nādī (a term usually translated rather primitively by "winds")-whose source is located in prāna and in the breath. Thus an Upanisad says: "As the spokes of a wheel rest on the nave, so all [In the organism) rests on the prāna."4 These teachings derive from knowledge of the breath that is not understood by modem man and that he can only revive through a special effort. When, however, the breath or respiration comes to be felt as prāna, it can then be made to serve as a "way through": when the breath has been made conscious, when clear consciousness has been grafted onto the breathing, one is able to discover the "life of one's own life" and to control the organism and the mind in many ways that are quite impossible for the ordinary consciousness and will. Furthermore, by taking the rhythm of the breath as a "vehicle," it is possible to render certain states of consciousness "corporeal" and "organic," to make them, that is to say, act upon the life-forces of the samsāric entity in such a way as on the one hand to stabilize and consolidate them, and on the other to modify the samsāric stuff accordingly. Further developments of the discipline of breathing are dealt with by Buddhism. From purely bodily mastery, we pass to psychic mastery, and formulae like these are used: "I wish to breathe in feeling joy, I wish to breathe out feeling joy"; "I wish to breathe in feeling the mind, l wish to breathe out feeling the mind"; "I wish to breathe in glad­dening the mind, I wish to breathe out gladdening the mind"; "I wish to breathe in concentrating the mind, I wish to breathe out concentrating the mind": and the same for relaxing. Finally, conscious breathing is practiced with other contemplations and states; it confers a rhythm on them and is itself a channel through which they become


  1. Angutt., 5.96.

  2. Digha. 22.2.
    4. Chāndogya Upanisad, 7.15.1.

131

united with the subtle counterpart of the human make-up. t is said that when the breathing is thus watched and practiced, "even the last breaths cease mindfully, not unmindfully."5 In the Upanisad it had already been said: "Truly these beings arrive in the wake of the breath, depart in the wake of the breath."6

At this stage, however, the aim of the practice is only contemplative. t is a matter of making the breath unautomatic at certain moments, of making it conscious, of placing oneself before one's breathing and one's breathing before oneself, by experiencing the breath essentially as prana, as the life-force of the body.

(b) In the second place, we have contemplation of the body and of all its parts, with the coolness and the precision of a surgeon at an autopsy. The canonical for­mula is: "Behold, this body bears a scalp of hair, it has body-hair, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, stom­ach, intestines, membranes, feces, bile, phlegm, pus. blood, sweat, lymph, tears, grease, saliva, mucus, articular fluid, urine." And the Following simile is given in order to show how to perform the operation: as though a man with good eyesight having a sack full of mixed grain might untie the sack and carefully examining the contents might say: "This is rice, these are beans, this is sesamum." Naturally, the best thing that can be done by anyone wishing to follow these disciplines is to go to a morgue or to be present at an autopsy: he will thus obtain particular vivid and effec­tive images as a basis for such meditations. The purpose is always the same: to disidentify oneself, to create a gap: "This am I, this is my body, it is made thus and thus, composed of these parts, of these elements."' There are some texts that pre-scribe, as an additional fortifying exercise, contemplation of the various diseases to which the body is exposed.'

(c) For the third exercise, the body is considered to be a function of the four "great elements" that are present in it. Whether he is moving or still, the ascetic tnust consider the body that he bears as a function of these elements: "This body consists of the earth element, of the water element, of the fire element, of the air elements." This kind of meditation had a somewhat different significance for ancient man from what it may have today. Ancient man, in fact. regarded the "great element," mahābhuta, not merely as "states of material," but rather as manifestations of cos­mic forces such as the elements that were taught by the ancient and medieval West-ern traditions. In any case, the aim of the meditation is to comprehend the body as a function of the impersonal forces of the world that follow their laws with complete


  1. Majjh., 62: 118: Angutt., 10.60.

  2. Chandogya Upanisad, 7.15.1.

  3. Dīgha, 22,5.

  4. Angutt., 10.60.

  5. Digha. 22.6.

132

indifference to our person. ha the second place, we have to understand that these "great elements" also are subject to the laws of change and dissolution. Thus some texts advocate the practice of calling vividly to mind the periods both of power and of decline and dissolution of the cosmic manifestations of the four elements, so that we come to this conclusion: if change and cessation befall even these powers of the world, why should they not also befall this body, "less than eight spans high, pro­duced by thirst for existence"? Are "I," "mine," or "I am" its real attributes? In actual fact, "It has nothing."10 According to a simile for this third operation: in recognizing in the body this or that element one must proceed in the same manner as a man who, butchering a cow, separates the various parts and considers them well, takes them to the market and then sits down-that is to say, one must return to oneself, one must finally become aware of oneself. By arousing the knowledge that the organism, though still alive and "ours," follows the objective and elementary laws of the great elementary forces, quite independent of the world of the "I"; by awakening this sense, the body once again provides the basis for a reaction, for a detached and free realization of the extrasamsaric factor in man.

(d) Maranānussati, contemplatio mortis. Here one has to imagine a corpse in all the phases of its decomposition: stiff, then swollen up and rotting. then stripped of flesh with only the tendons left, then without either flesh or tendons, then as scat­tered bone, as bones heaped up and mixed with others, and finally as bones rotting away and as bones crumbled to dust. With this, one has to comprehend: "My body, too, has a like nature, so will it become, it cannot avoid coming this fate,"11 These similes should awaken particularly vivid feelings without, however, arousing Ham­let-like reflections nor those of the Semitic minstrel with his vanitas vanitatum. The decay of the body, in all its crudity, is here considered as helpful to progress because, rather than depress the mind, it should awaken a detached consciousness capable of imagining with perfect calm and dispassion the fate of one's own body after death. It is, once again, a matter of consolidating the sidereal, extrasamsāric element. Should these meditations result in a feeling of pessimistic depression, of desolation, of Leopardian shipwreck, then they have been quite wrongly carried out. They are performed correctly when they result in a state of mind where one can consider a disaster overtaking one's body, and even physical death itself, as though another's body were concerned. This state may even transform itself into a force capable, in certain circumstances, of acting positively on the organism. Thus the texts speak of a sick ascetic who recovered his strength and overcame his disease at the moment of understanding and apprehending the teaching about the perfect meditation on the

10. Cf. Majjh.. 28; 140. 11 . Digha, 22.7 10.

133
holy.'' It is said: "If the body is ill, the mind shall not he ill-thus have you to train yourselves. The Ariya are not obsessed by the idea: `I am materiality, materiality is mine, materiality is my self.' and for this reason they do not change when the mate­rial body changes and grows old" or when the same fate overtakes the otherconstitu­ents that make up the personality*

This is the fourfold form of the Buddhist contemplation of the body, which con­stitutes the first support. Its importance in regard to the goal, which we have already discussed, is confirmed by the statement that this contemplation, well practiced. well exercised, gives a foretaste of amata (Skt.: amrta), that is to say, of the deathless.14

2. Contemplation of the feelings. After the body, the feelings (vedana) form the basis for the sidereal awareness of oneself. The canonical formula is: "Among the feelings within, the ascetic watches over the feelings; among the feelings without, he watches over the feelings; among the feelings within and without, he watches over the feelings. He sees how the feelings arise, how the feelings pass away, how the feelings arise and pass away. This is feeling'-such knowledge becomes his support because it leads to wisdom, it leads to reflection."15 Such exercises can be correlated with what is called the control of the six internal-external sensory realms, although this latter is normally included in the fourth section, namely, that concern­ing the dhamma. Here we are dealing with the sphere of the senses, including the mental organ. The formula is: "The ascetic understands the eye, he understands visual forms and he understands that all combinations resulting from both are bonds. He knows when these combinations occur, he knows when the combination that has occurred ceases and he knows when the combination that has occurred will no longer appear in the future." The same formula is repeated for the ear and sounds, for the tongue and tastes, for the touch and contacts, for the mind and mental objects.'' To begin with we may not understand the action that is to be performed: how do we obtain this separate knowing of the sensible faculties and of their objects, as if we were complete strangers to both, and what is the purpose of tracing their combina­tions in the same spirit as a chemist follows the process of the combining of two substances? We should understand the meaning of the discipline in this way: that we must make ourselves aware of the nature of common experience, and of how it exhausts itself in the "flux." What we have already said about a passive way of thinking is mainly true in the case of the various senses. In reality, to say "I see," "I taste," "I hear" is, in samsaric existence, rather a euphemism. Indeed there exists

1   ...   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   ...   30


The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2016
send message

    Main page