1) Companion Intro
I am not sure I could write a book on meditation but if I did it would be significantly plagiarised from Buddhadasa’s “Mindfulness with Breathing”. But writing a companion guide is legitimate so long as I emphasise that this companion guide makes no sense without studying the original. This is how I began writing the companion, but very quickly it changed – to the Pathtivist Companion. And with that change for me came far greater integrity. I have no connection with the institution around Buddhadasa. I consider his works my Buddhist teacher but I have never met him – he died in 1993. I have never been trained at his monastery – the International Dhamma Heritage although I have no hesitation in recommending such training. Because I have no such connection writing a companion to the book MwB lacked a certain amount of legitimacy, but writing a companion to pathtivism has no such connotations – who is better qualified to write a companion to pathtivism than me because I coined the term – as far as I know. However what still remains true is that this Companion makes no sense without fully reading MwB.
So what do I mean by Zandtaomed as the Pathtivist Companion? In the Manual begun in the Treatise, I established the approach of pathtivism, it is only the path that matters. I began the Manual in an attempt to look at activism and examine the ego in activism. In the end I concluded that all that mattered was people follow their path, and their paths would take care of the activism. For a while I was a socialist activist because I saw compassion in socialism. All that happened was that I was labelled socialist and attacked for being socialist. Then I would defend the socialism, and no-one knew that all I cared about was compassion. That is because my compassion became attached to a view – socialism, my path became attached to a view, and because of the way the world has become – as a financial investment strategy – people only see the views – the isms. One way out of this ironically is my ism – pathtivism, people find their paths and guided by the Dhamma and compassion they make their decisions; then there can be no perceived attachments to views. No more the horrendous personal compromises political allegiance requires – discussed in the Manual.
Becoming a pathtivist is unlikely just to happen. Conditioning in this world is so strong it is unlikely that someone can just look at all the conditioning and just let it all go. So I am writing this meditation companion to help you let it all go. Now as I said above this companion was initially a companion to MwB - this will still be the core meditation manual of anapanasati-bhavana for pathtivism, but the objective is to help you find your path only – no limitations of any religious isms, institutional restrictions or the like. Just the path, the path only. No culture in this path, maybe that is a weakness, but I have been dispossessed by my culture so that is a positive for me; it might not be a positive if your culture is indigenous. Whatever, all that matters is path, and Zandtaomed will help you try to find it.
There is a severe limitation in this companion, and there is nothing I can do about it’s limits. Where Zandtaomed has had students, the teaching is strong and informed. As the teaching gets deeper and deeper into the path there has been no reinforcement by the teaching situation, so the companion later on becomes theoretical based on my own experience only and MwB. This is not good. Hopefully there will be practical reinforcement of the teachings by teaching practice in which case I could improve the companion, but until then parts of the companion will remain theoretical. The teaching interaction will be lacking but there will always be my experience. I am not enlightened so no discussion of enlightenment. I am not liberated – I still have ego although I am always working on it, I have not thrown back “I and mine” but I try. Pathtivism is an individual approach so ego is a huge risk and I will always be mindful of this risk – I just hope sati is strong enough to write such a risky book. But then pathtivism wanted the companion – is it out of my control? Out of my ego’s control – I hope so.
The essential conclusion of the Pathtivist Manual was that all that mattered is the path, the Companion is therefore concerned with this. The Companion relies heavily on work produced by Buddhists, and the Buddha described a path - the Noble 8-fold Path of the 4 Noble Truths (which the Companion also uses). Wai Zandtao does not claim to know "What the Buddha Taught", is very grateful for the teachings of Buddhadasa and how he has used his knowledge of "What the Buddha Taught", but there are differences between Pathtivism and Buddhism, mainly concerned with institutional practices. Does pathtivism conflict with anything the Buddha taught? I would like to think not, but I don't know enough. Pathtivism grew out of considerations of contemporary activism, recognised that the most constructive form of activism is for all people to follow their paths, yet Buddhist institutions debate activism as engagement or not. Meditating on activism will be a theme throughout this Companion, the path is active.
At this point I must write with full candour and bluntness that I have considered withdrawing the Zandtaomed Pathtivist Companion because of its bias. Even though this Companion is promoting pathtivism there is a bias within pathtivism and the Companion that is so strong it cannot be addressed through editing. There is no love-wisdom balance. Basically MwB and the practice that is in the Companion is part of a wisdom tradition (now the first part of the Companion) but you can see the bias reflected in the number of chapters.
But I did not want to withdraw the Companion because it contains such good teachings – as does MwB. With zandtaomed as an elder there would be a love-wisdom balance but if you just looked at MwB and the first part of the Companion there would be bias – the practice is concerned with wisdom only.
What happened to zandtaomed reflects this bias. Zandtaomed first developed his practice through the study of Buddhadasa. When his teaching work started he developed the Companion. Then he worked on Viveka-zandtao that led to his own journey into the unknown that eventually led to zandtao (zandtaomed is zandtao advising about meditation) crossing the threshold of autonomy. At this crossing zandtao was free from institutional restriction. This then led to a much greater recognition of the way patriarchy limits spiritual evolution, and increasingly zandtao began to focus on love and therefore a need for a love-wisdom balance.
Once zandtao had worked on his own imbalance that had grown out of a wisdom tradition that included MwB he needed to go back and look at MwB and the Companion. It was not possible to meaningfully edit the Companion to include love throughout ie to make the Companion balanced in terms of Love-wisdom throughout so he has made the book of two equal parts – part 1 Wisdom tradition and part 2 love-wisdom balance. But when you look at the contents there is a bias 14 chapters on wisdom development and one chapter on love-wisdom balance. If the seeker is working with zandtaomed there would be no problem in the balance of the developing practice. But if the seeker is working on their own then that balance would be hard and would not be reflected in the emphasis of writing.
Buddhadasa is a wise teacher and discusses love elsewhere in his writings but that love is not directly practised in MwB. To develop the balance zandtaomed has added a Dhamma comrade of love (Ch5), described sampajanna as love-wisdom-in-action (although that has not been changed throughout), and then given detail in the changing of practice by embodying love and wisdom in the second part of the Companion. The balance comes by the seeker adding love throughout their practice, and this is reflected in part 2.
At this point zandtao questions religious practice in all wisdom traditions, this question is raised regularly in the Prajna portal that has been zandtao’s writings after crossing the threshold of autonomy. Wisdom is accepted by patriarchy but love is not because within love there is power that can lead to change; quite clearly patriarchy does not want a love-wisdom balance and religious institutions are compromised by this. In terms of pathtivism love is a power that can be harnessed for the development of path activism, without a love-wisdom balance path and its activism is limited. If you are going to study this book as a means of developing pathtivism please make sure that your meditation practice includes an equal weight of love.
Buddhadasa follows nature as God as discussed here. For Buddhadasa, if he accepted religions, Buddhism would be a nature religion and in nature there is love-wisdom balance. From what zandtao understands Buddhadasa presented a love-wisdom balance but it was just not present in his practice of MwB. Zandtao still respects Buddhadasa as his teacher but his autonomy rightly recognises the need for a love-wisdom balance, and for zandtao that has to be reflected in his practice of zandtaomed. Nature and idapaccayata has a love-wisdom balance, when conssidering Buddhadasa he will remember that.
Zandtaomed now advises a love-wisdom balance in meditation, and recognises that a love-wisdom balance is core to pathtivism. In terms of MwB and Companion zandtaomed stresses the need to redress the love-wisdom balance, and give equal weight to part 2 to overcome biases of our conditioning.