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Advice from Zandtaomed

Defiled World

In the last of the LayWai I discussed the timeless and the tacit. This was important for me because it discussed Tathata – what is what, and placed the Buddha’s timeless wisdom in that context. Wisdom arises through an understanding of the world of suffering, and through wisdom we can go beyond that suffering. But without an understanding there can be no wisdom. Therefore because we recognise the wisdom of the Buddha, we also recognise that he had an understanding of the world of suffering. In the suttas the wisdom of the Buddha is passed onto us but the tacit is not presented as it is not timeless wisdom.

But there is timeless wisdom there so that we can understand the world of suffering. From the 4NT we know there is a world of suffering and from paticcasamuppada we know this world comes from conditioning. But how does this suffering show in the world? In other words what teachings did the Buddha give us to understand the world of suffering?

Conditioned egos occur because we attach and cling to desires – 4NT. But how does this clinging show? In the world this shows as defilements (kilesa) so if we look at the defiled world we can see greed, delusion and aversion. The kilesas are usually considered on a personal level, in that we are asked personally to remove the kilesas, to remove the egos that give rise to kilesa. But we can also see in the defiled world the collective kilesa. What is perhaps more important is that we can use the kilesa to explain forces in the defiled world to then show us the importance of removing kilesa in ourselves and hopefully encourage others to remove kilesas to help improve the state of the defiled world. Understanding what the kilesas are was the timeless wisdom the Buddha gave us in order to see the world for what it is. Kilesas are the timeless wisdom to help us understand the tacit. The Buddha spoke of greed aversion and delusion in his world but did not speak of the specific problems. In our world today we can understand the tacit through examining the defiled world in terms of greed, delusion and aversion, and thus we can follow the path by removing these defilements.

When considering our current defiled world few dispute that greed is a problem. However little emphasis is placed on the other two kilesa as contributors to our world situation. That is the wisdom of the Buddha by showing us that we not only need to look at greed but also the way delusion and aversion affects our daily lives.

An issue I have discussed is that of human downgrading particularly in the world of social media. Perhaps the Buddha was teaching the 1% when he showed them that humanity is easily fooled by delusion, so the 1% learned that a way of exploiting is to promote delusion. They have succeeded in this and we have human downgrading – discussed here and here. And to maintain this the Buddha taught the 1% that they use the kilesa of aversion to help people accept the delusion and avoid the truth. This is the essence of the human downgrading by social media that CHT talk about. The Buddha gave us the teachings to help ourselves, sadly the 1% have used this understanding to exploit.

So how do we recognise this defilement? Greed – when we try to live unsustainably. It is not natural to own land as it is freely given by nature, but given the way the system has changed it is not unreasonable to own a house suitable for the size of your family. To me this is not greed. But then we look at the ostentation of the 1%, and we see unsustainable living. Many houseowners delude themselves that because they are owners they are 1%, this is not the case because they are living sustainably. The 1% like to delude these people that they are because it defends them electorally.

In the way the 1% make their money there is usually resource exploitation sometimes including wars for profits over the resources. To manufacture their profits they use labour as wage-slavery when it is perfectly natural for people to work together for their communities equitably. These are some of the ways greed shows itself.

To ensure continued accumulation, greed that is beyond sustainable, the 1% control governments. In terms of policies concerning resources and profit-making governments act as puppets. Whilst there are individuals who gain attention in this defiled world and whose policies and practices would bring compassion to all, these people do not gain power. This is part of the control that can be understood as 1%-satrapy.

At present the 1% choose to hide behind an electoral democracy, and to maintain control of those democracies they use media to promote delusions such as racism and sexism, and promote division by entrenching partisan idealism. This has been worsened through the use of social media, and was mentioned above as human downgrading – a process of encouraging the worst of the defilements in individuals. The natural way is to live together in harmony though compassion and moral decency, these are not the ways of human downgrading.

It is not difficult to see that being in harmony with Mother Earth is the best way for people to live, so for the 1% to maintain control they must work against introspection. When people are born they survive through instinct and this instinct conditions the ego until they reach a mature age where they move beyond conditionality. For the 1% to maintain control they do not want people to develop the introspection that could lead to people following their paths so they condition aversion. This aversion shows itself in fear and clinging esp clinging to sensuality and views. This clinging acts as a barrier to introspection, a barrier to following the path.

So if we want to understand our defiled world we use the wisdom keys the Buddha gave us for that understanding by seeing the world in terms of the kilesa - greed, aversion and delusion. At 67 I can look back in my life and see that the world I have lived in has been defiled by these three, and there is no reason to think that such defilements have not given rise to defiled worlds throughout history.

Before we look at meditation a final point concerning engagement. For many Buddhists this is a dilemma. As discussed in the Timeless and Tacit, it would make sense that the Buddha’s wisdom arose from a tacit understanding of the world of suffering. If we use the keys of the kilesa we can see how the defiled world arises, and therefore it would be in line with accepting the Buddha’s teachings to completely engage in the removal of the defilements, not only for ourselves but also to help others to remove their defilements in an attempt to create a world that is not so defiled. Whether this complete engagement is through compassion on a personal level or in other ways, compassion requires complete engagement in line with the Buddha’s Timeless wisdom concerning the path, and his Timeless wisdom of the kilesa that leads to a tacit understanding of the world of suffering enabling us to develop our own wisdom that is beyond the “tacit”.

Meditation - There is a hermetic principle "as above so below" - maybe as for the microcosm so for the macrocosm, but in this case we have the defiled world and the kilesa in us. If as I am suggesting the Buddha looked at the world and saw kilesa so can we. This is tathata - what is what.

But in this world each individual must take care of themselves so as the world is conditioned by kilesa then around us must be this conditioning of kilesa. We are subject to the conditioning of kilesa. Daily the kilesa try to attract our egos building up attachments so mindfulness needs to be aware of this. Daily mindfulness must seek greed, delusion and aversion, and let go of the attachments. This needs to be part of our meditation practice. We must be humble. Any compassionate person must say I am not greedy, yet there is the conditioning of greed all around us. Any mindful person must say I am not deluded, yet there is the conditioning of delusion all around us. Any meditator must say I look inside myself yet there is the conditioning of aversion all around us - perhaps as complacency?

For the pathtivist with complete engagement in this world there has to be constant awareness of the kilesa, in our meditation we must not be complacent. Look for greed, aversion and delusion and let go of the egoic attachment.

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