Sunday, June 30, 2013

The True Measure of Spiritual Progress - Cutting of Defilements

Someone recently asked me 2 questions (as below) and my response is as such: -

1.Just want to know if bardo teachings is written in any Theravada or Mahayana sutras?

My reply: I don't think there is any specific Theravada suttas on bardo per se, but I stand to be corrected. As for Mahayana sutras(I think you meant Chinese Mahayana), I really can't answer that. My knowledge is not enough. But if you want to know if there is any Vajrayana Sutras on bardo subject,again I shall not attempt to answer that. But I am curious why you want to know. The Buddha already said it clearly in Kalama Sutta " Don't believe anything just because it is written in a holy book".

2. How do you relate the Bardo states with cut greed, anger and delusion?

My reply: Why do you practice Buddhism at all? Anything I practice, I tell myself it has to result in reduction of the three root vices. Whether you are alive or dead/in the bardo, you cut greed, anger and delusion. No matter which tradition we go to, we will never go wrong if we stick to this universal principle of cutting greed, hatred/anger and delusion.

It's Buddhism 101 actually. The 2 replies I have given above is something others can provide too. Nothing special. You and I are the same level in training. If I say something wrong, then you correct me. That's how we learn from each other, right?
The above Q&A were given due to an earlier question posed more generally to others. This will be shared in another blogpost because I want to emphasise on the issue of the "originality of the Buddha's teachings".
Further thoughts on the subject:-
I used "cutting of greed, anger and delusion" (inclusive of various kinds of attachments and defilements) is because I do not want to use "attain enlightenment/liberation". In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, it is explained step by step what happens after death and what does the person expect to experience in the intermediate states. It tells us how the Buddha in the disguise of various peaceful and wrathful deities try to help the deceased to recognise the nature of mind and thus achieve liberation. But the text also recognise that if the deceased has the various attachments and delusions, it is very difficult for the deceased to recognise the nature of reality and mind. Hecne, my intention is to bring us back to the basic of understanding what is "attaining liberation or achieving enlightenment". It is nothing more than cutting of of our attachments and delusions. We should not think of it is any superstate of consciousness. That is how bardo practice is linked to cutting of greed, anger and delusions, i.e. achieving liberation through realising the nature of reality. We can only realise it when the former are cut off.

I am somewhat disappointed with Buddhists who in spite of their years of meditation and practice as well as vast knowledge in the dharma, still display such arrogance and bad attitude that goes contrary to their status as a senior practitioner. They have so much attachments, anger, jealousy, other delusions but they don't realise it. I suspect one to be on the verge of going "chou fuo ru mo", or "...crazy" in simple English. That is why I am more keen to measure wisdom (no matter what practice we do or which tradition we are in) in terms of how much defilements that have been reduced. There is not much point in being able to understand deep emptiness concepts but ... the behavior is still the same. There is no transformation in your behavior and attitude towards others.
This is what is happening in Myanmar. Despite being learned in the so-called "original" teachings of the Buddha, and deep vipassana meditation practices, some monks there still incite hatred towards their Muslim brethren and some even allegedly kill others to protect their Buddhism, race, or whatever they think they are protecting. How can this be? Those people are a disgrace to Buddhism. I hope there are only a few of them. What a shame!

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