Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Are You Progressing?

Are we progressing?

What is the final goal of Buddhism?

There is no other goal in Buddhism except the extinction of dukkha/suffering/stress.

Just the elimination of suffering, of mental fear, worry, anger, pain, anguish.
This is the only goal of Buddhism.

And we will know for ourselves whether it has been successfully reached or not.

Just because we have taken part in some ritual or ceremony – these are externals which do not in any way signify that the final goal of Buddhism has been reached.

The only way to know is through observing the mind.

If there is any dukkha/suffering/stress left, the final goal has not been reached , no matter what ceremonies we've been through, or how many retreats we've attended, or how many books we've read. But, even if we've done no retreats and our teacher says we're still an idiot,
if there is no dukkha remaining, then the final goal has been reached.

Let us look into our Minds and see honestly

1. Is there the steady decrease and abandoning of sexual love, lust?........ so that what remains is love that is pure.

2. Is there the steady abandoning of anger? The lessening and final end of anger will occur as we walk this path.

3. Is the feeling of hatred gradually lessened? Hatred accomplishes nothing. It is an utter waste of mental energy. Looking into our everyday Minds, do we see whether our feelings of Hatred and Ill will is gradually decreasing at work and at home?

4. Are we steadily less and less afraid? We've been conditioned to fear all kinds of things; darkness, the unseen, the unknown. This unnecessary fear will slowly lessen until there's none left.

5. Do you realise that the things/happenings that used to excite or stimulate our minds are no longer as enticing as before? The "marvelous, exciting" things no longer have THE CAPTIVATING power and influence it used to have. It would be just what it is.

6. Is there less and less anxiety? We all tend to get caught up in thinking and worried about things ceaselessly. This will slowly be abandoned until there is no more of this anxious thinking left to disturb the mind.

7. Do we see that the sentimental, melancholic hold of things past is no longer as strong as before? Understanding impermanence , we no longer LIVE in the past, but progressively learn to live fully in the present.

8. Is there a lessening of envy? This envy is progressively abandoned until there is none left.

9. Is there a lessening of the EGO, that tendency to look down on others, to have a disparaging or insulting attitude, where we raise ourselves up and look down on others - this will fade away until none is left.

10. Are we still highly critical of others? The Buddha made much of this point. He said that the Tathagata never says a word that is critical or disparaging of others. The Buddha did not go around saying "you're wrong, I'm right". He would essentially say "this is the way things are" and proclaim the truth as he saw it.

11. Are we still as possessive, clinging, or greedy? When the practice of the Buddha Dhamma is progressing, this kind of possessiveness will gradually disappear.

12. Finally is the ability to see the reality of things as they are. Our inability to see things the way they are gets us caught up in many misunderstandings, assumptions and prejudices. This misunderstanding slowly will disappear, and in its place will grow the steadily increasing awareness of the reality/truth of things.

We can measure whether our practice is progressing or not by these milestones. We cannot measure progress by how long we can keep our legs crossed, or by how many days we can stay in a kuti.

The way we measure progress is whether these twelve things are happening or not. These we can see for ourselves if we simply look into our Minds. A teacher can never look into our mind and see what is happening there.

(Adapted from a talk by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu)
From a forwarded email by Dr. Punna

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