SuttaCentral

A Checksum For The Buddhist Spiritual End Game


#1

It seems like there is always a bit of confusion on the Internet about what the final destination is for each person in Buddhism.

So, I thought I would list each point. I would be obliged if people chimed in and told which points were NOT supported by the SUTTAS:

  1. You follow the Eight Fold Path
  2. You begin losing the number and depth of attachments you have.
  3. You experience less dukkha as a result
  4. “You” ( your kamma and some of your khandas ) are born into better existences as a result
  5. You realize there is no “you” as a result
  6. Eventually you lose enough clinging such that you are not reborn anymore
  7. You go into nibbana.
  8. Nibanna is eternal happiness
  9. Nibanna is not annihilation, though there is no “you” any more.

#2

Checksums should be easily verifiable. For example, how should one verify that one is not reborn anymore?


#3

I don’t want to try to offer any definitive reading of what is or is not in the suttas, because for every sutta that lends itself toward one interpretation, one can usually find another sutta that lends itself to a competing intetpretation. But I would say the most straightforward readings of #4 and up are at least disputable - espdcially the interpretation of nibbana as something a person goes into rather than something that happens to a person.


#4

I like the idea, but I wonder if this is for practical purposes or for a theoretical map?

I wouldn’t even know how to follow the eightfold path in practice. Except for right speech, action, and livelihood the limbs are pretty much open to interpretation. Not that the limbs are random, but everyone develops their own take on them.

Also the other points in the list are conceptual, so maybe you could mention the purpose you had in mind for the list?


#5

Gabriel, if you can’t interpret the suttas at a base level they might as well be blank pieces of paper.

I apologize for the overly flowery language I used. I’m just checking to see if I have the basic Buddhist teachings right.


#6

In that case, sure you can interpret the suttas as you did with the list. You won’t get a majority to agree on it though. And probably no other list will. It’s the finger and the moon all over again.

We can make fancy/simple lists, or we can simply say that the goal is to end desire. Both will stay cryptic because the skill of language and the skill of spiritual progress belong to different weirdly connected registers.


#7

Really?

It seems to me like most monks and teachers agree on what the majority of the teachings are in the suttas, with academics having the lion’s share of significant disagreements about smaller and smaller issues.

I’m not interested in arguing that point, nor splitting atoms so I will bow out here, thank you for posting, and look for basic help elsewhere.


#8

How about practice morality, samadhi and wisdom? Or the Noble eightfold path?


#9

I would suggest taking care here – something like “timeless” or “beyond / outside of time” instead of “eternal”, which smacks a bit of Christian thinking ("…forever and ever…").

My sense is that Buddha’s teachings are more along the lines of “no known or knowable beginning / end” for mundane stuff, like samsara, but transcending space-time for the supramundane.


#10

The “checksum” is easy: do you have boredom, doubt, anger, greed, or any other form of restlessness?


#11

Is that temporarily…?


#12

Permanently (thanks for the catch!)

If you have uprooted the cause, eliminated the basis, then you cannot have mental restlessness ever again and you can know then that you’re an arahant. If your mind is capable of restlessness, if you ever experience a restless mind, you can know then that your work isn’t over. :smile:


#13

Sometimes people cannot detect their restlessness and might think they have overcome it!


#14

The Buddha found a way to verify if someone had been reborn - or not. He got a psychic to tap on the ‘skull’ of a dead Arahant. The body of the Arahant had died but his future destination could not be found. The psychic could determine where someone was reborn in this way - tap tap! He could not find a place where the Arahant had been reborn. He hadn’t landed anywhere - problem solved. :slight_smile:


#15

Indeed! That’s why I didn’t focus on the other four of the higher fetters: in my experience they’re even harder to see in yourself! :joy:

In my practice, restlessness has been the easiest to notice and the hardest to lie to myself about. Of course, easier and harder are relative terms: some days we are much stronger in our ability to deceive ourselves! :joy:


#16

Blind spots


#17

Exactly! That’s the blasted, tricky thing about Buddhism: we’re trying to improve our tools, but to do that we need good tools! If only I had mindfulness! Then I’d really be able to improve my mindfulness! :joy:


#18

This is just a way of looking at practice. It might help to reflect deeply on the awakening factors and carry out a careful reading of Ajahn Brahm’s ‘Basic Method’ to gain a different perspective.

The idea that ‘I’ am doing the practice and, ‘I’ could benefit from a better tool-kit may not be that useful?

It may be better to simply relax in faith. Faith/confidence in the Dhamma - this is an awakening factor.

Let the Dhamma carry you out of existence and nonexistence. There’s nobody going nowhere, there’s nowhere that you have to be but where you find yourself - moment after moment.

You are bound to be successful if you love yourself unconditionally, the mind will settle itself.

All the mind seeks is a good loving friend that it trusts. In this company we can truly let-go. Be that friend :heart_eyes:


#19

Well, until I can be that friend, I’m glad I’ve got y’all! :heart: Thanks for the encouragement @laurence! :slight_smile:


#20

There’s a paradox here? The ‘I’ - the sense of self - cannot really be that friend - why?

The sense of self - I-ness - is related to ‘sakaya ditthi’ (personality belief). This ‘I’ who is taken to be the ‘doer’, the entity with the shonky tool-kit, is a product of the imagination.

It’s a dependently originated phenomenal display, an appearance. It doesn’t inherently exist from its own side.

Through letting go we give up the project mentality. We cannot engineer freedom and liberation. It’s not an invention, a creation, the handywork of a ‘doer’. This perspective is ill-conceived.

Just let go and relax here and now and, repeat the process. It’s as easy as taking your next breath - AHHH

Sometimes we may think of the path as something like an IKEA kit - just follow the instruction book and everything will work out fine. We may think we need a better instruction book and better tools? It ain’t like that - is it?

The project approach works with many things, like learning how to play guitar or, building a house. It doesn’t work that way with the Dhamma.

The Dhamma works on us, not the other way round. When the Dhamma finishes it’s work we will be nobody - at all.

Relaxation in faith is an awakening factor. Investigation is an awakening factor. Investigate the doer :slight_smile:

You cannot make a mirror by polishing a brick. You can’t make a silk purse of a sow’s👂

We know we are in the company of a friend when we sense their warmth and acceptance. They don’t keep a checklist and they don’t compare us with some imaginary ideal person.

We don’t need to be perfect! That’s an impossible ask that is doomed to repeated failure, regardless, of our tool-kit and our check-list? Just let go - it’s safe. No parachute, no ground! :heart_eyes: