Liberation is freedom, and for some it is an objective of following the path. Enlightenment is a similar word and some people claim to be enlightened, that is a claim zandtaomed never makes. Equally zandtaomed does not claim to be liberated, but liberated as a state of mind is understood as being free from, and being free from is something zandtaomed can work towards – doing the best he can.
Compassion is connected to liberation through freedom and means free from suffering – again an objective of Buddhism, all people free from suffering. Liberation can be seen as free from suffering, and what causes suffering the Buddha discussed as the 4 Noble Truths. In the 4NT the Buddha spoke of clinging, and within zandtaomed’s own meditation (see zandtaomed's MwB practice) releasing upadana (clingings) is included in stage 12, 14 quenching dukkha, and 15 atammayata. Another word for clinging is attachment, and in stage 12 zandtaomed also releases attachments of kilesa and attachments to the 5 khandhas. So in MwB there is a process of liberation with the release of attachments.
Where do attachments arise? From conditioning. In tathata of 2 conditionings zandtaomed describes the two times we meet conditionings, in our upbringing and societal - whilst they are the same conditioning; in this advice zandtaomed wants to focus on societal conditioning, especially when describing this societal conditioning as kilesa conditioning. zandtaomed along with Buddhadasa and many Buddhist teachers present teachings that ask seekers not to attach to defilements – kilesa. Here zandtaomed discusses the defiled world that arises from kilesa, and in the advice uses tathata that arises from MwB to examine this defiled world. In this advice zandtaomed wants to take that examination by tathata further.
Kilesa – greed (lobha), aversion/hate (dosa) and delusion (mosa) – arise personally through upbringing and societal conditioning; when mature, seekers let go of these attachments. But in society there are many adults who are still attached to these kilesa, and it is this collective state of conditioning zandtaomed described as the defiled world. As seekers develop, they learn to recognise the way these kilesa are in daily life (the defiled world); through this recognition they are able to release the attachments. In this advice zandtaomed wants to use his own tathata to advise about how to recognise these conditionings in daily life.
At the end of the Seeker Story, zandtaomed advises seekers to develop an understanding of their own relationship with patriarchy - imperialist, white-supremacist, capitalist patriarchy. Through this aspect of the Seeker Story zandtaomed asks seekers to see how the patriarchal conditioning in its different forms have impacted on the upbringing of the seeker, and through this mindful consideration let go of the attachments. It is best if seekers have worked on this aspect of their Seeker Story before looking at this advice, because if the seeker has not developed an understanding of the relationship between their upbringing and patriarchy then immediately they are likely to avoid the use of the word patriarchy – avoidance as the delusion of prevailing conditioning.
Once the seeker has gone through their Seeker Story and developed a relationship with patriarchy, then seekers are in a better position to recognise kilesa and release the attachments according to zandtaomed. The seeker is moving forward with their liberation because they are recognising more and more of the attachments that imprison them.
There is a danger associated with recognising kilesa conditioning as patriarchy, we might want to struggle against this patriarchy. For many young activists their awareness growing into adulthood brings a recognition of the way patriarchy restricts them, and they struggle politically against this powerful system. This can be frustrating, and cause such young people much suffering. For each person they must choose how and if they struggle, that is part of their path; but that decision is not what zandtaomed is discussing here – it is however discussed in pathtivism trilogy. What zandtaomed is discussing is that seekers need to become aware of all aspects of kilesa so they can release the attachments. In society kilesa conditioning has become the system of patriarchy, so zandtaomed is asking seekers to recognise the way patriarchy creates conditioning and then learn to let go of the attachment of conditioned egos. This is learning to live within patriarchy and release attachment. Understanding the system that you live in and how that system creates attachment is part of developing awareness for a seeker.
Let me stress again that zandtaomed is advising on how to recognise conditioning so that the seeker can release the attachment. Most Buddhist teachers limit their explanation of the way conditioning arises to kilesa, and do not draw the systemic relationship/identity between kilesa conditioning and patriarchy. That is for each teacher to decide. Quite clearly kilesa creates the defiled world so if as individuals we release all kilesa when they arise that is individual freedom – liberation. But do seekers always recognise the way kilesa is if they do not connect the defiled world of kilesa conditioning to the system of patriarchy those kilesa create? If they do, that is sufficient for them. zandtaomed through the Seeker Story asks the seeker to examine the impact of the patriarchal system on their upbringing and to develop a relationship with that system. Would the awareness be the same if zandtaomed asked the seeker to develop a similar awareness with kilesa? Which method is for each seeker to decide, zandtaomed chooses the method of seeker awareness to develop a relationship with patriarchy because that was more complete for him.
But let me stress again the dangers of zandtaomed’s teaching of relationship with patriarchy. When we understand the impact of patriarchy on our lives we might be tempted to an active response against this system. That is an individual decision to make and is fraught with danger because it is a decision to be active against the power of society. If an individual takes such a decision of conflict with the powers and influence in society, then they put themselves at risk of being punished by those powers. In society the powers of patriarchy control so much that impacts on your daily life, and it is risky to struggle against such power. Whilst there are many stories in which people have been successful in fighting injustice, there are far more stories of suffering caused by those who take on the patriarchal system. Being aware of the patriarchal system, and coming to terms with how a seeker can follow their path whilst being aware of the patriarchy is the advice zandtaomed is giving. Recognising the impact of patriarchy on upbringing can help the seeker release attachments, and help with their liberation. That is the purpose of this advice to help a seeker be liberated by being aware of patriarchy. Know the dangers, but use that knowledge to help with your liberation. Know the dangers, but use that knowledge to help with your liberation.
PS - Pathtivism discusses the issue of aware activism throughout, by focussing on the path first. At some point a seeker might wish to choose activism, that is their choice. Whilst a seeker is learning to follow the path, that learning is the emphasis of zandtaomed’s teaching; once the seeker is following the path then it becomes their own autonomous decision. What has our leadership decided concerning the awareness of patriarchy? What is the wisdom in what they have decided?