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Advice from Zandtaomed
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Integrating 4 Noble Truths with zandtaomed

Historically the Buddha (Gautama) was considered revolutionary, his personal journey was in part concerned with re-evaluating Hinduism. According to Buddhadasa, it is important to understand that throughout the Buddha's teachings he was explaining to Hindus, and again according to Buddhadasa because of this in Thailand what is Buddhism and what is Hinduism have become mixed historically. In this way he explains inconsistencies such as why reincarnation is a part of mainstream Buddhism in Thailand, and yet for Buddhadasa it was not part of Buddhism - but appeared to be so because of the language that the Buddha used. zandtaomed notes that in Thailand Buddhadasa is highly respected but was also considered revolutionary.

In the West Hinduism and Buddhism are part of “eastern knowledge”, when seekers go East they usually start with India – it was not something bill did (please note the use of anatta language explained here). Following his mid-life review in Africa bill went to Thailand, began the Buddhist aspect of his life at Wat Phra Keau even though his main influence prior to Buddhadasa was the Forest Sangha at Harnham Buddhist monastery; bill never “did India”.

Given this context zandtaomed wants to discuss the 4 Noble Truths. Wednesday was a significant Buddhist holiday here in Thailand - Asanha Bucha day – marking the first teaching of the Buddha in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta – the 4 Noble Truths of dukkha, samudaya, nirodha and magga. Early on in zandtaomed’s study of Buddhadasa, he started transcribing a series of 14 Buddhadasa talks on ariya sacca; it is long but not complete.

In terms of his own “revolution” the Buddha’s first teaching is 4NT so zandtaomed wants to integrate with such importance. Zandtaomed's advice focusses on developing the practice of MwB with the Companion, but this requires an understanding of the way things are (tathata) and this is given in the writings on the website. The MwB stages zandtaomed uses are here in his practice. How do the 4NT connect to the advice and practice of zandtaomed?

Dukkha – there is suffering. Once at a Buddhist meeting bill spoke of this suffering as including socio-political origins, and an attendee said it is not usually taken that way. That was the beginning of a realisation for zandtaomed as to the way Buddhism is often slanted – for some using avoidance. This slant is best understood through this advice – the Tathata of two Conditionings. The basis of this advice is that we are subject to one conditioning, the building of self through instinct to survive growing into adulthood. It is this conditioning that is “Buddhist-dogma-wise” considered as giving rise to dukkha. However this conditioning continues throughout life and society – not stopping at adulthood; but it is hoped that when seekers mature they go beyond this conditioning. zandtaomed asks what happens to this conditioning when it is appropriated by forces within society and is used for their own interests? In Buddhist terms this conditioning leads to attachments that develop kilesa, and in the advice zandtaomed refers to this as kilesa conditioning.

But in social terms how does this kilesa conditioning function? Through zandtaomed’s work with bell hooks’ books including the Seeker Story, zandtaomed has investigated if/how this conditioning connects to patriarchy. For zandtaomed the answer is clear but it is for each seeker to determine – hence the work done in the Seeker Story. Most Buddhists would accept that conditioning giving rise to kilesa that causes dukkha, but how many connect that kilesa conditioning with patriarchy? Integrating the 4 NT into zandtaomed would include a process for each seeker of questioning. Dukkha arises from conditioning, and that conditioning includes what zandtaomed terms kilesa conditioning. As part of their Seeker Story, zandtaomed asks seekers to investigate their relationship with the patriarchy, how it affected their upbringing. In effect zandtaomed asks the seeker to investigate the connection between dukkha, conditioning and patriarchy.

samodaya – wiki definition “(origin, arising, combination; 'cause'): together with dukkha arises ta?ha ("craving, desire or attachment, lit. "thirst"). While tanha is traditionally interpreted in western languages as the 'cause' of dukkha, tanha can also be seen as the factor tying us to dukkha, or as a response to dukkha, trying to escape it”.

Samodaya – arising from the conditioning (that is dukkha) is desire. Where does desire arise? In the khandhas. In the khandhas there are needs, satisfy those needs and let the desire go. In the khandhas can arise tanha. If that tanha is not let go it becomes clinging – upadana.

In MwB we calm the khandhas with the 3 conditioners (kaya, vedana and citta). If there is attachment to any desire such as kilesa, upadana or khandhas, in MwB they are let go. There are two steps in zandtaomed’s practice involving this – step 12 focusses on the removal of kilesa, upadana and attachment to khandhas, and in step 15 he focusses on atammayata – the state of “non-concoctability”, a state we work towards in which no attachments can arise.

nirodha - wiki definition “(cessation, ending, confinement): dukkha can be ended or contained by the renouncement or letting go of this tanha; the confinement of tanha releases the excessive bind of dukkha.”

The letting go and throwing it all back are the 4th tetrad, specifically stage 14 is the quenching of dukkha – nirodha.

magga - wiki definition “is the Noble 8-fold Path leading to the confinement of tanha and dukkha”. From the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta quoted below right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

Ajahn Chah’s Path to Peace discusses magga – the relationship of sila, panna and samadhi. Sila arises from grouping right speech, right action and right livelihood, and siladhamma is central to conduct. Wisdom is right view and intention, and samadhi is right effort, mindfulness and concentration.

Significant in the practice of MwB is the rising of the 4 Dhamma Comrades:-

[p103 MwB]. According to the originator of the method of MwB, panna and samadhi arise from the meditation; this is hardly surprising given the importance the Buddha placed on 4NT, that the magga is panna, samadhi and sila, and that Buddhadasa was a slave to the Buddha. So for zandtaomed’s following of the method of MwB we have panna and samadhi arising as 2 of the 4 Dhamma Comrades, and in daily life conduct is encouraged to be siladhamma; this is magga – sila-panna-samadhi.

Given that MwB comes from Buddhadasa's dedication to the teachings of the Buddha it would be unthinkable that the 4NT were not already integrated within his meditation method. The 4NT of dukkha, samodaya, nirodha and magga is timeless wisdom, so it does not specifically describe how dukkha arises at a particular time in history. That is for Buddhist leaders to consider contemporaneously, how do the 4NT arise in their time period? In the Seeker Story, zandtaomed asks seekers to consider the arising of dukkha NOW – in the current state of society and the way the kilesa conditioning interacts with that society. How do those seekers gain liberation from that kilesa conditioning in society?

Quote from Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta:-

“Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering.

Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving [ta?ha, "thirst"] which leads to re-becoming, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for becoming, craving for disbecoming.

Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, non-reliance on it.

Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is this noble eightfold path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.”

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