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

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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 4 Frames of Reference (part of the 7 Sets series!)

cachemash #90: vipassanā

cachemash #90: vipassanā (Photo credit: eaubscene)

The 4 Frames of Reference are contexts toward which you direct your attention. (7 Sets indexYou just kind of zone out and focus on them. This is like a master painter contemplating his canvas and his paints. He may contemplate the colors of his paints, their texture, and so forth.

In your case you work backwards, unpainting your painting until you are contemplating the canvas, and then further until you are contemplating your not-even-the-canvas: Somehow considering the mental medium that will carry the form of the picture in the witnessing of it.

Again, you have perhaps looked at a computer or TV screen up close, seeing then the individual pixels and the pixellated fabric of the image. You might then become absorbed in the nature of the pixellated fabric itself. Or you might listen with an ear to the sounds you are hearing, the forms of the sounds, and the possibility of those forms.

Your thought itself has structure, and you can consider that structure. Beginning to pay attention to the right things is the 4 Frames of Reference set. 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

Buddhism Series — the 7 Sets! — introduction

English: Painting of a bodhisattva benefiting ...

Buddhism in America is generally synonymous with Zen.  Also, American Zen is …unlike Asian Zen.  Asian Zen — Korean or Japanese Zen — is a religion.  It’s something like Catholicism:  highly structured, disciplines and rigorous.

–Different from the stuff you read in Shambhala magazine.  Pro tip:  If it compares the religion to quantum mechanics, or talks about mood management — it’s not what the Buddha taught.  The Buddha taught enlightenment.

This is Theravada Buddhism.  Different branch than Zen.  Based on the Pali canon — Pali being an ancient scholarly language.  Think of the Buddhists’ “ancient Greek.”

The basics:  Enlightenment is the goal.  Immediately we work for personal enlightenment.  Long term we work for the liberation of all sentient beings from suffering (via their enlightenment).  So the enlightenment of all sentient beings is our goal, while our own liberation is our objective.

The 7 Sets:  (some links are to articles being written)

Harmoniously, cordially, without dispute,
train yourselves in these qualities
that I have 
pointed out to you,
having known them directly

If you want to memorize them, note– This is a list of 7.  There are  there 3 fours, 2 five’s, 1 seven, and 1 eight.

They’re worth memorizing, and copying into a pocket notebook for odd moments!

For more information — see Wings For Awakening — an excellent book free online!

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