Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Mind as a Field to be Sowed

Quote from the 6th verse of Vasubandhu’s Twenty and Thirty Verses:

“The quality of our life
depends on the quality
of the seeds
that lie deep in our consciousness.”

The initial process of trying to wrap your head around the varying Buddhist schools of thought and scripture can be daunting.  In regards to all Buddhist philosophy, every sentient being who has a mind and consciousness has the potential to become a Buddha.  This subtle consciousness is called Buddhaseed or sugatahridaya.  This is the basis of Buddhism in general and Mahayana Buddhism in particular.  Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada (Hinayana) (“The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (“The Great Vehicle”).  The Mahayana is further divided into Paramitayana and Vajrayana, which are also known as Sutrayana and Tantrayana respectively.  For all Mahayana schools, the emphasis is on altruism, or bodhicitta, the desire to achieve Buddhahood in order to serve or help other sentient beings.  The difference between them is the speed with which this goal can be accomplished.  All these Buddhist traditions originated in India and were transmitted to Tibet, where they were preserved and practiced.
            In regards to scripture, Mahayana recognizes a loosely bound collection of sutras and texts.  So, for the sake of keeping things simple in this first post, we’re going to focus on the fundamental principles of Mahayana doctrine: the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
Our ultimate aim, our ultimate purpose in the world is to find happiness.  It is an emotion upon which we base many of our actions, many of our thoughts, in the hope of achieving that state.  But where happiness is concerned, you can focus on either happiness of the moment, or on happiness that transcends lifetimes.  This brings us to the Four Noble Truths, which essentially states that suffering exists, and there is a path to liberation from suffering.  This is what the Eight Verses are about.  They teach us how to deal with our negative emotions and subsequently improve our mind.  This leads us to Right Effort.

There are four practices associated with Right Effort, part of the Noble Eightfold Path that the Buddha taught as the path to liberation:
·      Prevent the unwholesome seeds that have not yet manifested from manifesting (“unwholesome means not conducive to liberation)
·      To help the unwholesome seeds that have already arisen in our mind consciousness to return to store consciousness
·      To find ways to water the wholesome seeds in our store consciousness that have not yet arisen, to help them manifest in our mind consciousness
·      Maintain as long as we can the mental formations that have already arisen from wholesome seeds on the level of our mind consciousness

It is so so very important that we remain mindful and water the seeds of happiness, love, and all positive seeds throughout our day.  Our happiness and the happiness of others depends on it.

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