Original Link : https://medium.com/dharma-talk/the-buddhas-lists-2-68eb7047771b
The eight awakenings or how to be a Boddhisattva
Following on from my previous article here we now turn our attention to what the Buddha said about the training to be a Boddhisattva and what that entails.
First of all there is the practice, then there is the understanding. These two must go hand in hand.
It falls into roughly two divisions, impermanence and suffering, though they all merge as well, as is often the case with these lists. They are identified individually for ease of reference and recall, not because they are actually separate in reality.
The first awakening
To want less, to relax and have few desires. We often want things, and find we are coveting the objects of the five sense desires. My weaknesses are more plants, more knitting wools. I look in catalogues or online and I covet these things and then I remind myself that they will not make me happier, they may make my garden look prettier, or keep me busy with my new knitting project, but will not make me happier overall. The intention is to have “few desires” beyond practical needs and to be aware that what we have can also be what we lose. They all take our energy.
The second awakening
To know how much is enough. I have enough plants and can always make more, as the one’s I have expand and grow anyway. But I want new versions or varieties. Even if you already have something, you set a limit for yourself for using it. I can only knit so many projects in one year. I only need so many jumpers. So you should know how much is enough.
The third awakening
To enjoy serenity. For me this is the bliss of solitude and small groups, pairs or pairs of couples. I love cold water sea swimming and i love to go with just one or two friends so we can really spend time mindfully together as well as swim. This is to be away from the crowds and stay alone in a quiet place. I find myself my most serene when on my own in my garden, tending to it. Or being with my close relationships and spending conscious time with them.
The fourth awakening
Diligent effort. It is about working to make life all inclusive with your practice, with your choices in life for a better more mindful life. Working to engage ceaselessly in mindful practices or positive mentally healthy practices. That is why it is called “diligent effort.” It takes effort to change and modify your whole life to fit in with this and to keep it on the straight and narrow. It means being honest when you ignore parts that are convenient to ignore, not to dilute your practice with unwholesome ones.
Of course we all do this, I do drink alcohol when I am out with my husband’s band but I don’t get drunk ever. So I am still being diligent. I keep going forward without turning back.
The fifth awakening
This is based on right thought, don’t lapse on internal management of thoughts. Sometimes I find myself slipping into negative thoughts or even speaking them out loud in ways that I would not want to. I have to correct myself and acknowledge I am slipping back into old habits which I have chosen to leave behind. I want to keep my mindfulness practice going with this thought management at all times and not to neglect mindfulness.
The sixth awakening
Maintain a regular practice of meditation in one form or another. If we live in a monastery this can be easier than in ordinary life, but not impossible ever. We just have to keep working with the dharma to make sure we are sticking to it as closely as we can in every moment, whilst acknowledging we also have to ‘manage’ life as it unfolds.
The seventh awakening
Work sufficiently on the dharma to develop the wisdom to see truth, to have clear vision of reality, not relative truth but the absolute truth that lies behind relative truth. It is to listen, read and study, contemplate, practice, and allow yourself to have realizations that show you where you are flawed and where you must move next.
The eighth awakening
Not to be engaged in gossip, shallow or hollow discussions. It is to experience realization and be free from discriminatory thinking, with thorough understanding of the true mark of all things. This last realisation is in turn based on:
Impermanence — The world is impermanent, everything is impermanent always and for ever. There is no such thing as permanence except impermanence.
When you can contemplate that deeply, everything changes. You are liberated from fear of impermanence through loss and realise there never was loss or gain or having or not having, just a cycle of impermanence. This life is impermanent even if it lasts for a hundred years, it will end. To realise that means you are liberated from the fear of impermanence and can embrace the joy of impermanence instead. You can embrace the endless cycle of birth and death and understand that within them you are also eternal.
Suffering — Most suffering comes from not understanding that things are like this in this moment and will change, that we can also change and thus make our experience of life different too.
We go through cycles of distress, ordinariness and joy, and all three are impermanent. They are just life.
The more you want, the more suffering you experience. Realizing that getting what you desire won’t bring happiness, you relax your clinging. How to end this form of suffering, value what you have now.
The human mind is always searching externally, looking outwards from its internal perch, and thus never feels fulfilled. Freedom and happiness come from cultivating contentment, rarely from more ‘things’ or ‘experiences’.
Non-self or emptiness— understanding that the concept of self is misleading to us and undermines our sense of belonging. we are made of the exact same molecules as a tree or the air or the earthworm, we are part of the oneness, not apart from it.
Diligent effort, or what you must put in to free yourself from the prison of suffering. Unravelling our deep-seated belief in ‘permanent self’ takes humility, hard work and persistence.
Ignorance is the cause of the endless round of birth and death. You search for the best teachings that open this up for you. For me this was most definitely Thich Nhat Hanh though others find their own routes through, including guidance on the training to reduce your habit of ignoring reality.
Poverty thinking or lack mentality creates hatred and anger. Train yourself to be generous and treat all beings with equanimity, knowing you will sometimes fail but you can continue to work at it.
Yet another list, the five sensual desires are food indulgence, money, sex, fame, and oversleeping. These can all lead you to problems of all sorts and make your life far more prone to suffering. They can also trap you into mental prisons of negative habit energies.
The cycles of existence, of birth and death, causing endless suffering, is everywhere. As a boddhisattva, you vow to save all sentient beings from the suffering of endless cycles of existence by supporting them to wake up.