When people comment on spiritual subjects, the extent of their comprehension or authority of the subject is demonstrated in their spirit and in the spirit of their words. So, when people lack spiritual authority, but then comment on spiritual subjects, their lack of direct experience may be quite evident. Those without spiritual authority may lack confidence and so they may seek the agreement of others and approval of others, as well as display a frightened belligerence and also arrogantly hold anyone in contempt who does not conspicuously agree with them, as in the extreme case of the witch-hunting Puritans or the Crusading Holy Roman Inquisition of ritual human sacrifice.
Those who lack confidence in their own spiritual authority may refer to other authors as the source of their authority, such as neglecting the reality of spiritual doctrines and focusing on the lineage and pedigree of their teachers. They may make it clear that they cannot establish what content has spiritual authority with their own discerning, and instead rely on looking at degrees and pedigrees and authorization. They do not demonstrate inner authority. They refer to second-hand authority as primary, rather than direct realization or revelation.
They may hysterically reject any oral tradition or written content that is not already familiar to them, for new translations or new revelations (at least new to them or new to their familiars) may threaten their frightened naivete and reveal their foolishness, their vanity, and the futility or fruitlessness of their mistaken application of spiritual doctrines. Any hysterical irrationality may be revealed by true spiritual authority as being hysterical irrationality. That principle is just as evident in the case of Buddhism, as detailed below, as it is in any other tradition.
With all of that in mind, it was many hours ago that I published a clarification of the basics of Christianity (and Islam), which are rooted in the Hebrew tradition (if not earlier traditions such as the Vedic tradition which may be recognized to be even older and to contain all of the core religious elements of the Hebrew tradition, plus more). Note that cultural variations are not core religious doctrines, so if nuns in one tradition wear a certain head covering that is common within desert regions among all religions in that desert area, then any cultural traditions of desert cultures would not be core religious doctrines (such as those that would apply to anyone regardless of age or sex and so on). An example of a cultural tradition would be the various head coverings of Christian nuns and Islamic women, which of course resemble the head coverings worn in ancient Egypt perhaps even prior to the arising of the Hebrew tradition. (Below the images are the content pertaining to the forgotten essentials of Buddhism.)
So, we can maintain respect for the various cultural traditions. Cultural traditions are absolutely valid. However, they are not the core or essential spiritual doctrines of any religion, for they are not doctrines of spirituality at all.
Now, we turn to another great religious tradition, Buddhism, with the same interest regarding spiritual authority and clear demonstrations of spiritual authority, as evident in coherent presentations of doctrines like the element of “complete understanding” in the Noble Eightfold Path (within the last of the four Noble Truths). Last night, a fellow named Jack wrote me the below response to my blog and videos of http://jrfibonacci.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/the-four-noble-truths/
“My understanding of the second of the 4 noble truths is not as complicated as yours. The main cause of unhappiness is the fact that all things are subject to change and in ignorance people go to extreem lengths to chase after and cling to these impermanent things. Duhkha is the ailment.Then there is the cause and a cure, and the cure is the 8 fold path. It takes practice rather than words to acheive the understanding.”
Here is my reply:
- jrfibonacci Says:
July 10, 2012 at 7:34 am | Thank you for your reply, Jack. Have you ceased from the practice of suffering? Have you ceased from clinging to what is passing? Have you ceased from struggling for an outcome? Have you ceased from causing yourself unhappiness?If not, then you may not yet be clear on the mechanism by which one would practice suffering. You can use a word like ignorance, but if you do not know what it means or how it relates to the particular issue, using a particular word is irrelevant.
When people learn language, there are challenges that arise. There is the possibility of confusion because of language. When someone is ignorant or unaware of the distinction between labeling a portion of reality and the reality of reality, suffering can result. Reality changes forms. However, if I am so attentive to a label that I neglect to notice the reality of something, that is ignorance. The particular mechanism of that ignorance is the confusing of the label for the reality. I may keep labeling something presumptively and the reality may no longer correspond to my labeling in language.
So, simply understanding this conceptually (or being able to repeat the words in a chant) is fine, but that is not the actual cessation of suffering to comprehend how suffering arises. When there is a mismatch between my own labeling of reality and the reality of reality, suffering is the attempt to fit reality to my labeling of reality, rather than revise my labeling to conform to reality.
I may want to make reality conform to some linguistic label that I name as my ideal. I may want to prevent reality from being in a particular way that violates some linguistic model that I worship as my idolatry.
We can notice the experience of distress, the arising of distress, the subsiding of distress, and also “the middle way” that involves living without the production of distress. The last item (the fourth noble truth) includes, traditionally, eight aspects, one of which is specifically about language. However let us next consider the “fold” of the 8 that you might recognize as “right view” or “right perspective” or “right understanding….”
If there is not proper comprehension as in clarity, then of course there will be potential for confusion. When there is clarity about reality, it is clear that reality includes language. So when there is total clarity about reality, that includes total clarity about language.
Many translators (or even many Eastern practitioners of Buddhism) may not have total clarity about reality. So, if one who is confused about the nature of reality comments about the various folds of the eightfold path, they are subject to great confusion and suffering. If the blind lead the blind, then more confusion and suffering may result, even as the people are chanting the words dukkha and suffering and ignorance and clarity and so on.
Dukkha is not the ailment. Dukkha is the symptom.
Follow the symptom back to its source and then unwaivering clarity may be recognized without any requirement for any particular words. Your understanding may not be as clear as mine, and thus you may mistake the profoundly simple as being complex (complicated).
Life is not complicated unless it is mistaken for something else. When life is mistaken for what it is not, that produces many complications, many symptoms. What do the complications point to? A simple clarity. Follow the symptoms all the way back to their root and you will have no concern about understanding.
Do you have any concern for understanding how to make the sound of the word: “wow?” You just make it effortlessly. When life is effortless for you, it does not matter to you whether you understand it or not. There is no longer any concern about understanding. That is called total understanding or complete understanding.
- The direct understanding of the Holy is foolishness to the average way of thinking. The average way of thinking is (innocent) foolishness to the Holy.
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