Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ethics, Nirvana, and Sundry Items

Professor Desani delivered a talk in old Bombay in the late 1960s titled Ethics, Nirvana, and Sundry Items.  Todd Katz has today edited and published (.pdf) this here.  It is the item at the top of the list of other "samples".
Some excerpts:
 "These things by themselves do not lead us to the ideal. They help us approach the ideal. A person who keeps his conduct Good – as defined so far – is the one who qualifies. It is quite in order to ask what it is for which one should qualify.
"To know this, to experience to attain excellence, freedom, mukti, Nirvana. But to attain it, one needs bala or balāni; power, or powers.
     "You need to have in your favor, prārabdha; a fate, a destiny, a beginning in the past. To be possessed of a good ‘past’ is a bala (a power). By ‘past’ is meant the infinite or a ‘history’ of a Consciousness. An individual born with an enormous bank balance, any prince or princess of a ruling house, with a few or no obligations or responsibilities, has to his or her credit a ‘past’. An individual born with an infirmity, an incurable disease, robbing him of the freedom of action, has a ‘past’. Both he, and an individual born with gifts, experience the advantages, and the disadvantages, of their situations, and regardless of their Will. Faith is a bala. A person without faith is the one who has his palm formed into a fist. You cannot give him anything. He cannot receive it. If a person exerts, practices, he has bala, or power. If a person has samādhi – he has concentration of mind, has calmness, as opposed to the restlessness of Lobha [that] I mentioned, he has real bala, power."
"Methods vary. Some look at and contemplate an image – a pratimā. Some visualize – ‘see’ mentally, direct attention to – a thought, a notion, a concept, a quality. (To contemplate one’s God as supreme, as good, as true, as merciful, as just, as love, as wisdom, is to contemplate the qualities of supremacy or power, goodness, truth, mercy, justice, love and wisdom. To venerate in a contemplation Gautama, the Buddha, or any other Buddha, as omniscient, as enlightened, as virtuous, free from Lobha, Dosa, Moha – regardless of its value as a prayer or a communication – would be a contemplation of his qualities.) It does not matter what means are employed so long as those lead to success in controlling that operation of Consciousness called ‘attention’. The Buddha recommends that we contemplate maître – lovingkindness for all beings whatsoever, human, infra-human, supra-human; and karunā – compassion for all beings, the good, the evil, all; muditā – altruistic joy in the happiness of all; upeksha – equanimity, the quality that enables us to accept, with calmness, and dignity, both joy and sorrow. The contemplation of these – with method and technique – can lead us to high samādhi, to the bala, power, of a concentrated mind. And to develop these qualities, as character traits, is as high an ethical aim as one can conceive."
      " is possible, citing an experience, just to ‘see’ a tree. It is possible, by controlling the mind, by freeing it, freeing it of all concepts – through the techniques the Buddha has taught us, by developing Sati and Samādhi – to ‘barely’ ‘see’ a tree, for a millionth-millionth part of a second. And to declare that it does not exist: or to say – from lacking the means to communicate exactly an experience – that the tree ‘exists’ only in the ‘mind’, in your C, in your particular scheme of knowing and understanding. At any rate, such a judgment would be as ‘true’ or as ‘false’, or more ‘true’ and less ‘false’, than the summary assertion “I saw a tree.” The Buddha has asked us to barely see. He has asked us to barely see (and not involve mana, the mind, in reactions, responses). That is true ‘seeing’. The ethical implications of such an appraisal of the world – both external and internal – are enormous." 
"The nearest conceivable lakṣaṇa – mark or feature – of Nirvana – according to Gautama, the Buddha, is peace. Bhagwan was careful to point out that the peace – the śanti lakhana of Nirvana – is not the ‘peace’ experienced by creatures in the world of phenomena."