Question: Dear Sir,
I had asked you about non-violence and Buddhism and why does the former precede the latter. Actually what I meant to ask was as follows:
I read Osho on the Dhammapada Sutras and I am very much in line with what is being said. I read about quotes attributed to Buddha and I am very (you may even say happy) pleased by the things I read. I like how Osho explains why our senses are fragile and why our thoughts that are a response to our senses, our conditioning to Samsaara etc. are always flitting away and hence to have absolute awareness one has to ‘lose’ rather than ‘achieve’ and this loss is of the self.
Yet, when I read the eight fold path, I was dismayed because this sounds like the same regurgitated moralistic lecture.
1. Right understanding
2. Right intention
3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration
In this list, everything to me is just about right !
Probably the problem you are facing is that this list appears too mundane. A ‘regurgitated moralistic lecture’ you say. Very ordinary precepts indeed in this list.
The Buddha is so extra-ordinary. We look at him with awe. Shouldn’t he be a little more attractive, shouldn’t his words sound a little more revolutionary? When we think like that, the Eight-fold path indeed appears so commonplace.
I invite you to visit Lao Tzu, the old man, on this topic. He says that to be complete is ordinary. In fact, when you are complete you become so ordinary that no flash of external attractiveness remains with you. You simply become normal, natural, ordinary, one with the air and the earth, the stars and the plants.
He also says that when you see good as good, bad is lurking close by. When you see beauty as beauty, it is quite ugly. When you see extraordinary as extraordinary, it is very ordinary of you.
There are no great teachings. There are no great hidden truths. Existence is ridiculously simple and obvious. It is as outrageously simple as the Eight-fold path.
If you want to interpret and apply your mind, it can go to any degree of complexity. But if you want to see and just know, it is obvious.
The Eight-fold path too has a negative purpose. It is there to create the conditions (by removing the barriers and the clutter) in which direct seeing and simple presence can take place.
Question: Dear Sir,
The problem which I was facing was seeing this with my hammers and tongs of western thought. For instance, what does ‘right’ imply? Who is to say what is ‘right?’ etc. I can see what you are saying. If by Lao Tzu you mean the old man who wrote the Tao Te-Ching, I am in fact reading the book today.
Perhaps I am trying too hard… trying to force an explanation: a literal one! I need to step back a little.
‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ imply judgment. To judge is the work of the ego.
Buddha never said ‘Right’. He only said ‘Samyak’. ‘Samyak’ means ‘in its place’. Appropriate, loosely put.
What he meant was that action, thought, remembrance, livelihood etc must be in their harmonious place just as everything in nature is appropriately placed in a smooth seamless integration.
Question: Thanks for clearing that, ‘in its place’ sounds better.
When the great Tao is forgotten,
Kindness and morality arise.
When wisdom and intelligence are
The great pretense begins.
When there is no peace within the
Filial piety and devotion arise.
When the country is confused and in
Loyal ministers appear.
I got the above lines from Tao Te-Ching. It is funny that you asked me to read about Lao Tzu because when I was replying to your mail, I was reading just that!
Answer: Beautiful lines !
And what would Lao Tzu say when you say his lines are beautiful?
When ugliness is seated deep within the heart,
you start appreciating beauty as beauty.
The Master of nothingness !
-Based on my interactions on various e-forums.
Dated: 20th April,’11