I’d like to share an article I wrote that came from my personal reflection regarding my life in general (my life’s purpose), existential dread, and its relation to my Dhamma practice. I’d like to say a few words as a precursor before sharing the article in order to be transparent with regard to my intention and where I’m coming from. I’d like to first mention that I have adopted the existential approach to the Dhamma (largely influenced by Ven. Ñāṇavīra Thera [whom I have quoted throughout the article] and Ajahn Nyanamoli Thero) and that it has helped me tremendously in my private understanding of suffering and freedom from it. By no means am I saying that it’s ‘the only right approach’ and that I understand it may not be for everyone.
A few key points that I’d like to highlight with regard to Dhamma practice in general which are emphasised by the existential approach (among other approaches) but may not be the most visible in my article are:
- The value of faith in the Buddha’s Teaching as one that can bring an individual to fully clarify and point to the way out of one’s initial situatedness in the world where every intentional actions that one partakes in are rooted in the avoidance of suffering (without understanding the root of suffering).
- The value of sense restraint that is wholesome and beneficial to our everydayness - in developing patience, compassion and generosity - and to ultimately understanding the Dhamma in the deeper sense for freedom from suffering.
- The value of arousing a sense of urgency as regards practice and in lessening one’s participation in distractions in daily life (i.e. gossiping, idle talk, etc.) - which is an important factor of the Path.
When I wrote this article, it was a good reminder to myself with regard to what I have come to understand in contrast to the heedlessness that I was maintaining in my everydayness - and that the contemplation was fruitful in arousing diligence and heedfulness with regard to my intentional actions (by body, speech, and mind), thereby bringing about more positivity and skilfulness (at least in Dhamma terms) to myself and others. I have been told by a fellow practitioner who found the article to be a good ‘lighter introduction’ to the existential approach to the Dhamma and thus I have decided to share it on the forum after much thought and consideration. As a note, I admit that the article can be hard-hitting and may provoke and/or heighten one’s existential dread, so please proceed with caution.
Here is a preview of the article:
Being in the world, this world, is an undeniable reality for each and every one of us. For without it, I wouldn’t be writing; nor you, reading; or anybody else who potentially comes across this essay (no matter how remotely). Each of us living, having lived; breathing, having breathed. Thinking and tinkering about the days gone by, our hopes for the future, but nevertheless forced to be pulled back to our extraordinarily-ordinary reality of the present once more.
Shallow Breathing: Everydayness and the Irony of Living
…in the world, living, happy to live, acting, happy to act.
I wish anyone who comes across it may benefit from it no matter how little. And though it may be heavy I hope there can be positive takeaways from having read it