Morality, Mindful Review, and Path

link to Mackey’s practice log

I never did noting so I can’t authoritatively comment on that technique but I did TMI and the mindful review practice is an Excellent Practice.  Depending on what kind of path you’re following, there may be different advice. And there is no right way, you have to do the experiments yourself and trust your intuition and your direct experience. But when it really comes down to the different approaches to practice it can be said that there is a fast pleasant way, a fast unpleasant way, a slow pleasant way, and a slow unpleasant way. Really the choice is yours. Most people would prefer a fast pleasant way. I don’t know, I’m starting to realize some people may actually like suffering.  So whatever your preference is. 

There is one school of thought in modern dharma practice – which is I think a product of the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition, and that’s the school that says “insight now- insight alone will free me- insight can’t be taken from me, I want to wake up now”. That’s a perspective that’s common on these fora and it’s fine, makes sense, people want to wake up now. My overall sense is that the noting practice tends to be more of the fast, unpleasant way for most people.  Why would someone choose a fast unpleasant way over a fast pleasant way? If they don’t have access to the fast pleasant way, put quite simply. Why don’t they have access to the fast pleasant way? 

There may be a few reasons for this- probably more, but off the top of my head I can think of a few:

  • innate talent
  • conditioning
  • actions and effects thereof – conditions conditioning- we have power to change**

**Actually when people stop believing this it is problematic**

There is a basic tenet of responsibility in Buddhism- the Buddha’s last words were “Work out your salvation with diligence”  There’s  stories you can read to come to your own interpreation of things.

There is another school of thought in modern dharma practice that honors tradition, honors the more traditional approach to awakening in the Buddhist sense which is esentially following the Noble Eightfold Path, developing Jhanas, and clearly comprehending the jhanas. The suttas are basically structured around the Noble Eightfold Path, which is a whole-being perspective on how best to accomplish awakening. What becomes clear is that everything is conditional-dependent on and arising with other things. So the school that takes into account the whole being seems to honor this conditional nature of things. 

The Noble Eightfold Path includes morality practice. Actually morality is one of three basic teaching which are related to specific aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path, namely, right livlihood, right speech, right action.  There are also specific guidelines, rules, if you will for conduct that one can follow – the monk version, or the lay version. When one puts intentional effort into the morality training it provides fertile ground for the training in concentration. My hypothesis that has turned out to be true in my experience, is that honoring all the aspects of each training as equally important, is the fast and pleasant wayThe Noble Eightfold Path is not a guide to a destination, it’s an instruction in the here and now. Correct application of the method of the Noble Eightfold path, in this moment, is enlightenment. Correct application of the method in the here and now, is enlightenment, because when that condition is in place, the mind will find Nibanna. 

Numerous instances can be found in the Pali Canon that refer to the monk being “quite secluded from sensuality and unskillful qualities” as a starting point for meditation. 

Eightfold Path factors:

Moral virtue[34] (Sanskrit: śīla, Pāli: sīla)1. Right speech2. Right action3. Right livelihood

Meditation[34] (Sanskrit and Pāli: samādhi)4. Right effort5. Right mindfulness6. Right concentration

Insight, wisdom (Sanskrit: prajñā, Pāli: paññā)7. Right resolve8. Right view

In fact, the very first instruction in Mahasi Sayadaw’s Practical Insight Meditation is as follows:

PART I BASIC PRACTICE Preparatory Stage If you sincerely desire to develop contemplation and attain insight in your present life, you must give up worldly thoughts and actions during training. This course of action is for the purification of conduct, the essential preliminary step towards the proper development of contemplation. You must also observe the rules of discipline prescribed for laymen (or for monks, as the case may be), for they are important in gaining insight. For layfolk, these rules comprise the Eight Precepts which Buddhist devotees observe on holidays (uposatha) and during periods of meditation.

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