End of the 7 Sets Series

Unlike the movies, you usually don’t get a box car. You snuggle in between a container and the lip of the car’s chassis, in the gap between the chassis frame and the container doors. It’s very dangerous — you can get killed. It’s also very illegal.

I hope this series has benefited you by presenting a hypnotherapist’s practical approach to the Buddha’s core teaching.

I consider the 7 Sets to be the Buddha’s core teaching.  To study the 7 Sets was useful to me because it is highly applied and specific.  The 7 Sets teaching is far more structured and nuanced than the “just mindfulness” or “just letting go” stuff that tends to circulate in his name.

I believe a hypnotist’s point of view is helpful because it looks to me like the Buddha did not exactly teach philosophy.  He taught how to cultivate selflessness to the point that it becomes possible to magically transcend the limitations that we, as embodied humans, implicitly assume are integral to consciousness.

The joy and delight in this work is that it makes one useful for humanity, and for all sentient beings.  I believe in enlightenment — in real enlightenment, that adorns Buddhalands, that dwells in Nirvana, and that provides a true release from the conditional existence that spurs suffering.

The Buddha did not teach “everyday enlightenment.”  He did not teach mood management.  I’m a pretty good hypnotist — I know mood management when I see it.  Mood management, everyday enlightenment, just letting go, and the quirky philosophy that compares Buddhism to quantum mechanics are all fine as far as they go.  But I do not believe they are the gift of the Buddha, and I believe the gift of the Buddha is transcendently valuable. More

The Noble 8-fold Path and Obstacles on the Way (part of the 7 Sets series)

English: Path near Gamesley Fold Farm

The Noble 8-fold Path is most known of the sets in the 7 Sets. It is something like the 10 Commandments in Judaism and Christianity. One difference is that most of the 10 Commandments are prohibitions — thou shalt NOT — while the 8-fold path is a set of positive obligations.

(Westerners often say that means Buddhism is more permissive, but I’m not sure that comparison is valid, or true if valid. Which is more permissive — to be told 10 things you can’t do, or 8 things you must?)

The Noble 8-fold Path is:

1. Right View
2. Right Resolve
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

Notice that 1-2 are internal, 3-5 are social, and 6-8 regard meditation and the path to attainment.  Some of these are addressed very thoroughly in the rest of the 7 Sets framework.

However, the social precepts — Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood — are less discussed.  There are rules for monastics.  There are guidelines for finding suitable employment.  Right Speech mostly boils down to not lying or being deceptive and not quarreling.

This is a good time to talk about the 5 Desires.  These are intrinsic drivers to attachment that are defeated on the path to enlightenment.

1.  Wealth
2.  Sex
3.  Fame
4.  Food
5.  Sleep

I hear the Buddha once said that if there were another desire like sex, he wouldn’t have attained enlightenment.

The 3 Sources of Bad Karma are:

1.  Hate
2.  Greed
3.  Delusion

These are to be avoided in yourself, but also one is to avoid stirring them in others.  No internet trolling, no being a con artist.

There are two lists of fetters.  There are the 3 Fetters and the 10 Fetters (which include the first three).

The 3 Fetters are:

1.  Identity View
2.  Skeptical Doubt
3.  Clinging to Rites & Rituals

Identity view is the idea that the self is real.  It is attachment to having a particular viewpoint.  The second and third are interesting in combination:  on the one hand, one ought not have skeptical doubt, but faith.  On the other hand, to cling to rites and rituals is a debased form of faith.

Rather than relying on rites and rituals, one should look into one’s own nature.  Doing this thoroughly shows up the emptiness of identity view.  The more you look at who you are, the more you find that you’re not there.

The expanded list of 10 Fetters, for those of you aren’t satisfied with only 3, is:

1.  Identity View
2.  Skeptical Doubt
3.  Clinging to Rites & Rituals  ………………The basic 3 Fetters
4.  Sensual Craving
5.  Ill-Will ……………………………………….. Fetters 1-5 are regarding this world

 6.  Desiring a Fine-Material Existence
7.  Desiring an Immaterial Existence ……… Fetters resolved with Bodhichitta
8.  Conceit
9.  Restlessness
10. Ignorance  ……………………………………Fetters 6-10 are regarding the next world

You can see how freeing oneself from the basic three fetters will tend to resolve the others.  Desiring a fine-material existence (to become an angel or guardian spirit, I imagine) will prevent attaining the enlightenment of the Buddha.  But really that has to do with identity view:  imagining that you exist, and further, that other sentient beings exist.

That doesn’t mean you should think that sentient beings do not exist:  it means that the language which expresses the question of whether sentient beings exist or not implicitly presupposes the problem that enlightenment resolves.

The 5 Faculties and the 5 Strengths (part of the 7 Sets series!)

English: Vietnamese devotional statue of the h...

Vietnamese devotional statue of the historical Buddha

The 5 Faculties and the 5 Strengths are the same 5 items. (7 Sets index) Really this is one set. The difference is only whether you have attained the virtues.

Some translations have Faculties and Strengths, while others have 5 Roads to Power and 5 Pillars of Strength. It’s a road to power when you’re on it and a pillar of strength when you have attained it.

Or you could say it’s a road to power when you’re cultivating it and a pillar of strength when you’re using it. Since using these virtues and attaining them are inimately linked, there is probably a good reason the Buddha linked them the way he did.

The 5 Pillars of Strength, the 5 Roads to Power, are:

1. Conviction
2. Persistence
3. Mindfulness
4. Concentration
5. Insight

Sometimes #5 is translated “discernment.”

Insight, #5, is the most useful and important. Making this point seems to be the Buddha’s primary purpose in mentioning this set.

The reason insight is the best of these is that it naturally leads to cultivation of the other 4.

4 Bases of Power (part of the 7 Sets series!)

Nirvana

Nirvana (Photo credit: Dunechaser)

The 4 Bases of Power are the fundamentals of proper motivation toward right action. (7 sets index) This is not only the “motivation” of getting in gear, but motivation coupled with a confidence in progressive attainment and a knowledge of what one needs to do from moment to moment to take the next good step.

Develop the base of power endowed with concentration founded on:

1. Desire and the products of exertion
2. Persistence and the products of exertion
3. Intent and the products of exertion
4. Discrimination and the products of exertion

These things make you powerful in your development. They properly motivate right action. To develop desire for enlightenment (*or salvation, if that’s your thing), endowed with concentration, founded on desire and the products of effort, powerfully motivates you toward right action.

Most people understand what these things mean, but let’s consider them a little more deeply. More

The 4 Right Exertions (part of the TiltedCandle series on the 7 Sets!)

The 4 Right Exertions are the moral actions of the psyche to lead one to attainment. (7 sets main

This painting depicts Devadatta on one of his ...

) You can use the term “wrong” here. It means evil, bad, or simply unskillful — they are interchangeable in terms of leading you toward or away from enlightenment, which are the only terms relevant.

Endeavor, arouse persistence, uphold and exert one’s intent for the sake of:

1. The non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not arisen.
2. The abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen.
3. The arising of good, skillful qualities that have arisen.
4. The maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude and culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen. More

Enlightenment Is the Goal — What Is Enlightenment? (7 sets series)

Maura


Maura O’Halloran
was a young Irish lady who went to live as a Buddhist monastic in Asia.  She greatly impressed her teachers, but was killed in a bus accident in Thailand after only a few years.  Her diary has been published by her family.

Patricia Dai-En Bennage quoted the following as a requiem for O’Halloran.  It is a quote from an unknown source.  Bennage explains that she copied the text into her notebook years ago, as a college student, at a time when finding any information in English about Buddhism was relatively hard.  She did not copy the source.  Therefore there is only this fragment.

Once renunciation and the awakened mind have been fully realized, the way to Buddhahood is clear.  Liberation is complete and such liberated beings are bodhisattvas and buddhas:  “enlightened ones” or “empty dwellers.”  Their usefulness to others both before and after their physical death is impossible to conceive.  They are nothing but useful energy leading to liberation for all beings still caught in conditional existence.

–source unknown.

That is enlightenment:  to become a bubble of pure consciousness, without attachment to any conditional state of affairs, free of the idea of self.

The 4 Spiritual Bodies in Buddhism — (part of the 7 sets series)

Fig. 7 Water's temperature does not change dur...

Fig. 7 Water’s temperature does not change during phase transitions as heat flows into or out of it. The total heat capacity of a mole of water in its liquid phase (the green line) is 7.5507 kJ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 4 Jhanas – this article is part of the TiltedCandle series on the 7 sets

The Buddha told a merchant that every man has four spiritual bodies. When the merchant asked him if every man has them at the same time, the Buddha told him no. We do not have them at the same time. The bodies are like milk, cream, butter, and cheese. We churn milk until it is cream, then butter, then cheese. We do not have milk and cream at the same time.

The process of developing a spiritual body is therefore similar to a phase change, ice melting to water, water boiling to steam. Also in my experience, there is a kind of latency effect. You pour energy and effort into the work, and there are results. But depending on how you observe, there may seem to be a plateauing effect.

When you heat water to boiling, there is a direct linear relationship between the energy you apply to the water and the rise in degrees of the water temperature over time. When the water comes to boiling, it does not get any hotter. Instead, that energy now has a direct linear relationship to the mass of the liquid water being liberated into steam.

The bodies the Budda was describing, which are organic and naturally-occuring phase changes, like the conversion of milk into cheese, are Jhanas. There is a little bit of slack and difference in the description of the Jhanas. It seems to me these differences are largely due to whether the source is describing the state the body is in (liquid or steam) or the process of conversion between them (boiling). More

God’s Love Is Unconditional

 

God’s love for humanity is unconditional.  We’re his children.  He does not love me more than you.  He does not love Jesus more than Hitler, does not love you less than Jesus or the Buddha.  God is well pleased with Jesus, and doubtless he is displeased with Hitler.  This is because of how they related to God’s other children.

In cultivating unconditional love for humanity, I am seeking to make myself more Godlike.  I did not understand that until I was well on my way.  I just decided it was what I wanted to do, not for religious reasons.  In fact, I was an atheist at the time.

I don’t think much of sympathy.  I live in a sleeping bag under a tarp.  I break into out of the way places when it rains sometimes. Sometimes when I beg for money people see me and flinch and look away, because seeing a beggar makes them feel pain.  I myself do not hurt. I don’t feel pain at begging for money and it doesn’t harm me.  I kind of want to tell them I’m doing fine and there’s no reason for them to hurt, but it’s a long conversation.

I talked to a Christian woman once who felt pain at the thought of the damned.  She cried while she talked to me.  I told her the same thing I’d like to tell those people who flinch when they see me and look away:

Sympathy is an inherently evil emotion.  Get rid of it.  Cultivate compassion instead.  It’s much better, much stronger stuff.

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