Friday, 23 October 2009

Gradual Path

From the Buddhist Dictionary:

Gradual development of the Eightfold Path in the: In many suttas occurs an identical passage that outlines the gradual course of development in the progress of the disciple. There it is shown how this development takes place gradually, and in conformity with laws, from the very first hearing of the doctrine, and from germinating faith and dim comprehension, up to the final realization of deliverance.

"After hearing the law, he is filled with confidence, and he thinks: 'Full of hindrances is household life, a refuse heap; but the homeless life (of a monk) is like the open air. Not easy is it, when one lives at home, to fulfill in all points the rules of the holy life. How if now I were to cut off hair and beard, put on the yellow robe, and go forth from home to the homeless life?' And after a short time, having given up his possessions, great or little, having forsaken a circle of relations, small or large, he cuts off hair and beard, puts on the yellow robe, and goes forth from home to the homeless life.

Having thus left the world, he fulfills the rules of the monks. He avoids the killing of living beings and abstains from it; without stick or sword, conscientious, full of sympathy, he is desirous of the welfare of all living beings. He avoids stealing ... avoids unchastity ... avoids lying ... tale-bearing ... harsh language ... vain talk.

"He abstains from destroying vegetal germs and plants; eats only at one time of the day; keeps aloof from dance, song, music and the visiting of shows; rejects floral adornment, perfumes, ointment, as well as any other kind of adornment and embellishment. High and gorgeous beds he does not use. Gold and silver he does not accept ... keeps aloof from buying and selling things ....

"He contents himself with the robe that protects his body, and with the alms-bowl with which he keeps himself alive. Wherever he goes, he is provided with these two things, just as a winged bird in flying carries its wings along with him.

"By fulfilling this noble domain of morality (sīla) he feels in his heart an irreproachable happiness."

In what follows thereafter it is shown how the disciple watches over his 5 senses and his mind, and by this noble restraint of the senses (indriya-samvara) feels in his heart an unblemished happiness; how in all his actions he is ever mindful and clearly conscious; and how, being equipped with this lofty morality (sīla), and with this noble restraint of the senses (indriya-samvara), and with mindfulness and clear consciousness (sati-sampajañña), he choses a secluded dwelling, and freeing his mind from the 5 hindrances (nīvarana, q.v.) he reaches full concentration (samādhi, q.v.); and how thereafter, by developing insight (vipassanā q.v.) with regard to the impermanency (anicca), misery (dukkha) and impersonality (anattā, q.v.) of all phenomena of existence, he finally realizes deliverance from all cankers and defilements, and thus the assurance arises in him:

  • "For ever am I liberated,

  • This is the last time I am born,

  • No new existence waits for me."

Cf. D.1, 2f; M. 27, 38, 51, 60, 76; A. IV, 198; X, 99: Pug. 239, etc.

Ignatian Spiritual Exercises

This is a bit off topic from Buddhist Ethics, but interestingly similar... Plus I'm working on a conference paper now comparing these with the Metta-Bhavana (Cultivation of loving-kindness).

Here are some resources I'm working from:

Some Wikipedia stuff (used for general information, not as a source!)
And a couple more:
I'm also using David L. Fleming, SJ's book, "What is Ignatian Spirituality"- available online for free by following that link. Guidance in my writing and research has come from my friend and occasional spiritual advisor, Larry, who himself is a lay Jesuit spiritual director (meaning that he leads people through the Spiritual Exercises). And lastly I have a couple dull historical texts. I'm hoping to get a copy of the original Spiritual Exercises in Spanish, but time and the fact that me Español es mierda may prevent much coming from that endeavor.

For those interested in looking at parallels between this and Buddhist practice, a good place to start is the examen:

This is a version of the five-step Daily Examen that St. Ignatius practiced.

1. Become aware of God’s presence.

2. Review the day with gratitude.

3. Pay attention to your emotions.

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.

5. Look toward tomorrow.

For details about each step of the Examen, read How Can I Pray?