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How can a small woman in a small country who does not understand many of these questions, let alone the answers, ever hope to become enlightened.

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    She may find out that conceit (better, worse, equal am I) causes suffering, yet there is the conceit "as he by human effort, she, by human effort, wa able, why shouldn't I" that leads toward end of conceit. The Arrows of Thinking Papañca & the path to end conflict, By effort, right one, not by waiting that one will be helped while inactive. May she always dwell among wise and never associate with fools. – Samana Johann Sep 24 at 23:53
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    I am fortunate to have had another veil lifted by your comment. – Sue Hamilton Sep 25 at 0:58
  • Mudita, but may householder be careful, it also has context Bhikkhuni Sutta, often related. – Samana Johann Sep 25 at 2:26
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    In case those comments needed explaining -- "conceit" is canonically associated with comparing and self-image, so for example "small woman in small country" might imply a comparison to "big man in big country" or anything else along those lines -- see e.g. this answer -- and "conceit" is one of the "fetters". But the Bhikkhuni Sutta teaches that conceit can also be helpful on the path, e.g. "if I practice like they do then I too might attain", if you find good role models. – ChrisW Sep 25 at 5:35
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    We're all small people on a small planet. And these days we nearly all have access to the teachings of the various traditions, although maybe not always to personal teachers. I would suggest we're all pretty much in the same boat, or all trying to get in it. As for conceit and arrogance, as Chris says these things are never unambiguously good or bad. It's a question of how we use them. A strength and a weakness are often the same thing seen from two angles. . . . . . . . – PeterJ Sep 25 at 13:12

12 Answers 12

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Maybe she doesn't need to understand all of that, if she can clearly see that all our problems come from the concepts held by our own mind?

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    Thank you... once again the veil has fallen. – Sue Hamilton Sep 24 at 22:49
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Theoretical understanding of the Dhamma may be complicated but the practice is not.

Firstly one should develop one's own merit. This can be done by developing the following:

  • generosity, charity or benevolence
  • being virtuous and ethical
  • developing oneself mentally thought meditation

This is mentioned in the Suttas as:

Tīṇ’imāni bhikkhave puñña,kiriya,vatthūni. | “Bhikshus, there are these three grounds for merit-making.

Katamāni tīṇi? | What are the three?

(1) Dāna,mayaṁ puñña,kiriya,vatthu, | (1) the ground for merit-making through giving.

(2) Sīla,mayaṁ puñña,kiriya,vatthu, | (2) the ground for merit-making through moral virtue.

(3) Bhāvanā,mayaṁ puñña,kiriya,vatthu. | (3) the ground for merit-making through cultivation.

Puñña,kiriya,vatthu Sutta 2

One should start with giving and helping others. Then or simultaneously one should increase one's morality. Finally one should start trying to develop one's mind through meditation.

The Buddhist training has 3 elements which are:

  • developing virtue and ethics - this is common with the 2nd item above
  • developing mastery over the mind through concentration - this is common with the 3rd item above
  • developing higher wisdom and understanding - this is common with the 3rd item above

An expanded version of this is known as the Noble Eightfold Path with each item further divided.

Noble Eightfold Path

To develop virtue one can do it as follows:

  1. you can set some rules to your conduct. E.g. the basic rules Buddhists follow:

    1. "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from onslaught on breathing beings." (Pali: Pāṇātipātā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.)
    2. "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from taking what is not given." (Pali: Adinnādānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.)
    3. "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from misconduct concerning sense-pleasures." (Pali: Kāmesumicchācāra veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.)
    4. "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from false speech." (Pali: Musāvādā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.)
    5. "I undertake the training-precept to abstain from alcoholic drink or drugs that are an opportunity for heedlessness." (Pali: Surāmerayamajjapamādaṭṭhānā veramaṇī sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi.)

Five precepts

  1. One should think of the intended consequences of one's actions. There can be unintended consequences also but this one should not worry too much about.

    • One should to what is of benefit to others, oneself or both
    • One should abstain from what is unbeneficial to others, oneself or both
    • One should abstain from what is unbeneficial one party though beneficial to others
  2. One can develop ethics by looking at the sensations when one is doing something. This will be an indication of whether one is reacting in a bad or good way. Sensation based stimuli makes one act or motivates one to act in good or bad way. By knowing the feelings one can constraint oneself before one acts on the stimuli.

E.g. One may get a bad feeling about someone and ones defence mechanism of fear may prompt one to do something bad

“What now, bhikshus, haven’t you known me to have taught the Dharma in this way:

  • THE 2 KINDS OF PLEASANT FEELINGS.
    • Here, when one feels a certain kind of pleasant feeling, unwholesome states grow in him and wholesome states lessen;
    • but when one feels another kind of pleasant feeling, unwholesome states lessen in him and wholesome states grow.
  • THE 2 KINDS OF PAINFUL FEELINGS.
    • Here, when one feels a certain kind of painful feeling, unwholesome states grow in him and wholesome states lessen;
    • but when one feels another kind of painful feeling, unwholesome states lessen in him and wholesome states grow.
  • THE 2 KINDS OF NEUTRAL FEELINGS.
    • Here, when one feels a certain kind of neutral feeling, unwholesome states grow in him and wholesome states lessen;
    • but when one feels another kind of neutral feeling, unwholesome states lessen in him and wholesome states grow.’?”

... [more detail description of the above follows in the Sutta]

Kīṭā,giri Sutta

The sensations discussed lastly with regard to developing virtue and ethics can be further used in the context of meditation as well. Sensations or sensory stimuli prompt unwholesome states this prompt one's action. In the case of virtue, understating the sensations was not to follow thought with harmful bodily and verbal actions. In meditation, this is extended a step further to eradicate harmful mental states.

(1) the latent tendency to lust reinforced by being attached to pleasant feelings;

(2) the latent tendency to aversion reinforced by rejecting painful feelings;

(3) the latent tendency to ignorance reinforced by ignoring neutral feelings.

Pahāna Sutta

Sensory stimuli causes sensations:

i. On seeing a form with the eye,

  • one investigates the form that is the basis for mental joy,
  • one investigates the form that is the basis of mental pain,
  • one investigates the form that is the basis of equanimity.

ii. On hearing a sound with the ear,

  • one investigates the sound that is the basis for mental joy,
  • one investigates the sound that is the basis of mental pain,
  • one investigates the sound that the basis of equanimity.

iii. On smelling a smell with the nose,

  • one investigates the smell that is the basis for mental joy,
  • one investigates the smell that is the basis of mental pain,
  • one investigates the smell that is the basis of equanimity.

iv. On tasting a taste with the tongue,

  • one investigates the taste that is the basis for mental joy,
  • one investigates the taste that is the basis of mental pain,
  • one investigates the taste that is the basis of equanimity.

v. On feeling a touch with the body,

  • one investigates the touch that is the basis for mental joy,
  • one investigates the touch that is the basis of mental pain,
  • one investigates the touch that is the basis of equanimity.

vi. On cognizing a mind-object with the mind,

  • one investigates the mind-object that the basis of mental joy,
  • one investigates the mind-object that is the basis of mental pain,
  • one investigates the mind-object that is the basis of equanimity.

Dhātu Vibhaṅga Sutta

When this happens one should know that they are impermanent and not clung onto:

If he feels a pleasant feeling,

  • he understands that it is impermanent;
  • he understands that it is not to be clung to;
  • he understands that there is no delight in it.

If he feels a painful feeling,

  • he understands that it is impermanent;
  • he understands that it is not to be clung to;
  • he understands that there is no delight in it.

If he feels a neutral feeling,

  • he understands that it is impermanent;
  • he understands that it is not to be clung to;
  • he understands that there is no delight in it.

If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it in a detached manner.

If he feels a painful feeling, he feels it in a detached manner.

If he feels a neutral feeling, he feels it in a detached manner.

Dhātu Vibhaṅga Sutta

By not clinging into sensations one does not create negative mental states which generally prompts physical and vocal action.

In short, both morality and mental cultivation can be done by:

  • knowing where ones attention is: mind/though, eye/sight, ear/sound, nose/smell, tongue/taste, body/feeling
  • know the feeling/sensation that this creates
  • know that these feelings/sensations are impermanent [and dependently arisen]
  • know that the feeling and sensory faculties and objects are not worth clinging to [or identifying as permanent, pleasant, self or relating to oneself, or beautiful]

This description may sometimes also sound complicated but the practice is not. It is best that one takes a course. Following are some pointers:

  • Thank you sir. Very good for me to see. – Sue Hamilton Sep 26 at 10:38
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she can memorize https://suttacentral.net/mn76/en/horner abandons any bad way of living and cultivate the good ways of living

Good Ānanda, what does this Teacher teach, what does he profess whereby an intelligent man could certainly live a Brahma-faring and, living it, could gain success in the right path, in Dhamma, in what is skilled?” “As to this, Sandaka, [1] a Tathagata arises in the world, a perfected one, a fully Self-awakened one endowed with right knowledge and conduct, well-farer, knower of the worlds, the matchless charioteer of men to be tamed, the Awakened One, the Lord. He makes known this world with the devas, with Māra, with Brahmā, creation with its recluses and brahmans, its devas and men, having realised them by his own super-knowledge. He teaches Dhamma which is lovely at the beginning, lovely in the middle, lovely at the ending, with the spirit and the letter; he proclaims the Brahma-faring wholly fulfilled, quite purified. A householder or a householder's son or one born in another family hears that Dhamma. [2] Having heard that Dhamma, he gains faith in the Tathāgata. [3] Endowed with this faith that he has acquired, he reflects in this way: ‘The household life is confined and dusty; going forth is of the open; it is not easy for one who lives in a house to fare the Brahma-faring wholly fulfilled, wholly pure, polished like a conch-shell. Suppose now that I, having cut off hair and beard, having put on saffron robes, should go forth from home into homelessness?’ After a time, getting rid of his wealth, be it small or great, getting rid of his circle of relations, be it small or great, having cut off his hair and beard, having put on saffron robes, he goes forth from home into homelessness. [4] He, being thus one who has gone forth and who is endowed with the training and the way of living of monks, abandoning onslaught on creatures, is one who abstains from onslaught on creatures; the stick laid aside, the knife laid aside, he lives kindly, scrupulous, friendly and compassionate towards all breathing things and creatures. [5] Abandoning the taking of what is not given, he is one who abstains from taking what is not given; being one who takes (only) what is given, who waits for what is given, not by stealing he lives with a self become pure. [6] Abandoning unchastity, he is one who is chaste, keeping remote (from unchastity), abstaining from dealings with women. [7] Abandoning lying speech, he is one who abstains from lying speech, a truth-speaker, a bondsman to truth, trustworthy, dependable, no deceiver of the world. [8] Abandoning slanderous speech, he is one who abstains from slanderous speech; having heard something here he is not one for repeating it elsewhere for (causing) variance among these (people), or having heard something elsewhere he is not one to repeat it there for (causing) variance among these (people). In this way he is a reconciler of those who are at variance, and one who combines those who are friends. Concord is his pleasure, concord his delight, concord his joy, concord is the motive of his speech. [9] Abandoning harsh speech, he is one who abstains from harsh speech. Whatever speech is gentle, pleasing to the ear, affectionate, going to the heart, urbane, pleasant to the manyfolk, agreeable to the manyfolk, he comes to be one who utters speech like this. [10] Abandoning frivolous chatter, he is one who abstains from frivolous chatter. He is a speaker at a right time, a speaker of fact, a speaker on the goal, a speaker on Dhamma, a speaker on discipline, he speaks words that are worth treasuring, with similes at a right time that are discriminating, connected with the goal. [11] He comes to be one who abstains from what involves destruction to seed-growth, to vegetable growth. [12] He comes to be one who eats one meal a day, refraining at night, abstaining from eating at a wrong time. [13] He comes to be one who abstains from watching shows of dancing, singing, music. [14] He comes to be one who abstains from using garlands, scents, unguents, adornments, finery. [15] He comes to be one who abstains from using high beds, large beds. [16] He comes to be one who abstains from accepting gold and silver. He comes to be one who abstains from accepting raw grain. He comes to be one who abstains from accepting raw meat. He comes to be one who abstains from accepting women and girls. He comes to be one who abstains from accepting women slaves and men slaves. He comes to be one who abstains from accepting goats and sheep. He comes to be one who abstains from accepting fowl and swine. He comes to be one who abstains from accepting elephants, cows, horses, mares. He comes to be one who abstains from accepting fields and sites. He comes to be one who abstains from accepting messages or going on such. [17] He comes to be one who abstains from buying and selling. He comes to be one who abstains from accepting from cheating with weights. He comes to be one who abstains from accepting from cheating with bronzes. He comes to be one who abstains from cheating with measures. He comes to be one who abstains from the crooked ways of bribery, fraud and deceit. [18] He comes to be one who abstains from maiming, murdering, manacling, highway robbery. [19] He comes to be contented with the robes for protecting his body, with the almsfood for sustaining his stomach. Wherever he goes he takes these things with him as he goes. As a bird on the wing wherever it flies takes its’ wings with it as it flies, so a monk, contented with the robes for protecting his body, with the almsfood for sustaining his stomach, wherever he goes takes these things with him as he goes. [20] He, possessed of the ariyan body of moral habit, subjectively experiences unsullied well-being. [21-1] Having seen a material shape with the eye, he is not entranced by the general appearance, he is not entranced by the detail. If he dwells with this organ of sight uncontrolled, covetousness and dejection, evil unskilled states of mind, might predominate. So he fares along controlling it; he guards the organ of sight, he comes to control over the organ of sight. [21-2] Having heard a sound with the ear, he is not entranced by the general appearance, he is not entranced by the detail. If he dwells with this organ of hearing uncontrolled, covetousness and dejection, evil unskilled states of mind, might predominate. So he fares along controlling it; he guards the organ of hearing, he comes to control over the organ of hearing. [21-3] Having smelt a smell with the nose, he is not entranced by the general appearance, he is not entranced by the detail. If he dwells with this organ of smell uncontrolled, covetousness and dejection, evil unskilled states of mind, might predominate. So he fares along controlling it; he guards the organ of smell, he comes to control over the organ of smell. [21-4] Having savoured a taste with the tongue, he is not entranced by the general appearance, he is not entranced by the detail. If he dwells with this organ of taste uncontrolled, covetousness and dejection, evil unskilled states of mind, might predominate. So he fares along controlling it; he guards the organ of taste, he comes to control over the organ of taste. [21-5] Having felt a touch with the body, he is not entranced by the general appearance, he is not entranced by the detail. If he dwells with this organ of touch uncontrolled, covetousness and dejection, evil unskilled states of mind, might predominate. So he fares along controlling it; he guards the organ of touch, he comes to control over the organ of touch. [21-6] Having cognised a mental object with the mind, he is not entranced by the general appearance, he is not entranced by the detail. If he lives with this organ of mind uncontrolled, covetousness and dejection, evil unskilled states of mind might predominate. So he fares along controlling it; he guards the organ of mind, he comes to control over the organ of mind. If he is possessed of this ariyan control of the (sense-) organs, he subjectively experiences unsullied well-being.

[22] Whether he is setting out or returning, he is one who comports himself properly; whether he is looking down or looking round, he is one who comports himself properly; whether he is bending back or stretching out (his arm), he is one who comports himself properly; whether he is carrying his outer cloak, his bowl, his robe, he is one who comports himself properly; whether he is munching, drinking, eating, savouring, he is one who comports himself properly; whether he is obeying the calls of nature, he is one who comports himself properly; whether he is walking, standing, asleep, awake, talking, silent, he is one who comports himself properly. Possessed of this ariyan body of moral habit and possessed of this ariyan control of the (sense-) organs and possessed of this ariyan mindfulness and clear consciousness, [23] he chooses a remote lodging in a forest, at the root of a tree, on a mountain slope, in a wilderness, in a hill-cave, in a cemetery, in a forest haunt, in the open or on a heap of straw.

[24] He, returning from alms-gathering after his meal, sits down cross-legged holding the back erect, having made mindfulness rise up in front of him. [25-1] He, having got rid of covetousness for the world, lives with a mind devoid of coveting, he purifies the mind of coveting. [25-2] By getting rid of the taint of ill-will, he lives benevolent in mind; and compassionate for the welfare of all creatures and beings, he purifies the mind of the taint of ill-will. [25-3] By getting rid of sloth and torpor, he lives devoid of sloth and torpor; perceiving the light, mindful and clearly conscious, he purifies the mind of sloth and torpor. [25-4] By getting rid of restlessness and worry, he lives calmly, the mind subjectively tranquillised, he purifies the mind of restlessness and worry. [25-5] By getting rid of doubt, he lives doubt-crossed; unperplexed as to the states that are skilled, he purifies his mind of doubt.

[26-1] He, by getting rid Of these five hindrances, defilements of a mind and weakening to intuitive wisdom, aloof from pleasurs of the senses, aloof from unskilled states of mind, enters and abides in the first meditation, which is accompanied by initial thought and discursive thought, is born of aloofness and is rapturous and joyful. If a disciple attains such lofty eminence under this Teacher, an intelligent person could certainly live that Brahma-faring and, living it, could gain success in the right path, in Dhamma, in what is skilled.

[26-2] And again, Sandaka, a monk, by allaying initial and discursive thought, his mind subjectively tranquillised and fixed on one point, enters on and abides in the second meditation which is devoid of initial and discursive thought, is born of concentration and is rapturous and joyful. If a disciple attains such lofty eminence under this Teacher, an intelligent person could certainly live that Brahma-faring and, living it, could gain success in the right path, in Dhamma, in what is skilled.

[26-3] And again, Sandaka, a monk, by the fading out of rapture, dwells with equanimity, attentive and clearly conscious, and experiences in his person that joy of which the ariyans say: ‘Joyful lives he who has equanimity and is mindful,’ and he enters on and abides in the third meditation. If a disciple attains such lofty eminence under this Teacher, an intelligent person could certainly live that Brahma-faring and, living it, could gain success in the right path, in Dhamma, in what is skilled.

[26-4] And again, Sandaka, a monk by getting rid of joy, by getting rid of anguish, by the going down of his former pleasures and sorrows, enters on and abides in the fourth meditation which has neither anguish nor joy, and which is entirely purified by equanimity and mindfulness. If a disciple attains such lofty eminence under this Teacher, an intelligent person could certainly live that Brahma-faring and, living it, could gain success in the right path, in Dhamma, in what is skilled.

[27-1] Thus with the mind composed, quite purified, quite clarified, without blemish, without defilement, grown soft and workable, stable, immovable, he directs his mind to the knowledge and recollection of former habitations. He recollects a variety of former habitations, thus: One birth, two births, three births, four births, five births, ten births, twenty births, thirty births, forty births, fifty births, a hundred births, a thousand births, a hundred thousand births, and many an eon of integration and many an eon of disintegration and many an eon of integration-disintegration: ‘Such a one was I by name, having such and such a clan, such and such a colour, so I was nourished, such and such pleasant and painful experiences were mine, so did the span of life end. Passing from this, I came to be in another state where I was such a one by name, having such and such a clan, such and such a colour, so I was nourished, such and such pleasant and painful experiences were mine, so did the span of life end. Passing from this, I arose here.’ Thus he recollects divers former habitations in all their modes and detail.

[27-2] With the mind composed thus, quite purified, quite clarified, without blemish, without defilement, grown soft and workable, stable, immovable, he directs his mind to the knowledge of the passing hence and the arising of beings. With the purified deva-vision surpassing that of men, he sees beings as they pass hence or come to be; he comprehends that beings are mean, excellent, comely, ugly, well-going, ill-going, according to the consequences of deeds, and thinks: ‘Indeed these worthy beings who were possessed of wrong conduct in body, speech and thought, scoffers at the ariyans, holding a wrong view, incurring deeds consequent on a wrong view, these, at the breaking up of the body after dying, have arisen in a sorrowful state, a bad bourn, the abyss, Niraya Hell. But these worthy beings who were possessed of good conduct in body, speech and thought, who did not scoff at the ariyans, holding a right view, incurring deeds consequent on a right view, these at the breaking up of the body after dying, have arisen in a good bourn, a heaven world.’ Thus with the purified deva-vision surpassing that of men does he see beings as they pass hence, as they arise; he comprehends that beings are mean, excellent, comely, ugly, well-going, ill-going according to the consequences of deeds.

[27-3] With the mind composed thus, quite purified, quite clarified, without blemish, without defilement, grown soft and workable, stable, immovable, he directs his mind to the knowledge of the destruction of the cankers. He comprehends as it really is: ‘This is anguish’, ‘this is the arising of anguish’, ‘this is the stopping of anguish’, ‘this is the course leading to the stopping of anguish’. He comprehends as it really is: ‘These are the cankers’, ‘this is the arising of the cankers’, ‘this is the stopping of the cankers’, ‘this is the course leading to the stopping of the cankers’. Knowing thus, seeing thus, his mind is freed from the canker of sense-pleasures and his mind is freed from the canker of becoming and his mind is freed from the canker of ignorance.

[28] In freedom the knowledge comes to be: ‘I am freed’; and he comprehends: ‘Destroyed is birth, brought to a close the Brahma-faring, done is what was to be done, there is no more of being such or so.’ If a disciple attains such lofty eminence under this Teacher, an intelligent person could certainly live that Brahma-faring and, living it, could gain success in the right path, in Dhamma, in what is skilled.

“But, good Ānanda, could that monk who is a perfected one, the cankers destroyed, who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained his own goal, the fetters of becoming utterly destroyed, freed by perfect profound knowledge, could he enjoy pleasures of the senses?”

“Whatever monk, Sandaka, is a perfected one the cankers destroyed, who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained his own goal, the fetters of becoming utterly destroyed, freed by perfect profound knowledge, he cannot become one to transgress five points: [1] a monk whose cankers are destroyed cannot become one intentionally to deprive a living creature of life; [2] a monk whose cankers are destroyed cannot become one to take what has not been given, as it were by theft; [3] a monk whose cankers are destroyed cannot become one to indulge in sexual intercourse; [4] a monk whose cankers are destroyed cannot become one to speak a deliberate lie; [5] a monk whose cankers are destroyed cannot become one to enjoy pleasures of the senses in regard to what was stored as he did formerly when in the household state. Sandaka, whatever is a perfected one the cankers destroyed, who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained his own goal, the fetters of becoming utterly destroyed, freed by perfect profound knowledge, he cannot become one to transgress these five points.”

“But, good Ānanda, if a monk is one perfected the cankers destroyed, who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained his own goal, the fetters of becoming utterly destroyed, freed by perfect profound knowledge, then, whether he is walking or standing still or asleep or awake is the knowledge-and-vision constantly and perpetually present that his cankers are destroyed?” “Well then, Sandaka, I will make you a simile, for by a simile some intelligent persons here understand the meaning of what has been said.

Sandaka, it is like a man whose hands and feet have been cut off; whether he is walking or standing still or asleep or awake, constantly and perpetually are his hands and feet as though cut off; and moreover while he is reflecting on it, he knows: ‘My hands and feet have been cut off.’ Even so, Sandaka, whatever monk is a perfected one, the cankers destroyed, who has lived the life, done what was to be done, laid down the burden, attained his own goal, the fetters of becoming utterly destroyed, freed by perfect profound knowledge, for him whether he is walking or standing still or asleep or awake, the cankers are as though destroyed; and moreover while he is reflecting on it, he knows: ‘My cankers are destroyed.’”

“How many great leaders, good Ānanda, are there in this Dhamma and discipline?” “Not merely a hundred, nor two, three, four or five hundred, but far more are those who are great leaders in this Dhamma and discipline.”

“Wonderful, good Ānanda, marvellous, good Ānanda; there can be no extolling of their own dhamma, nor disparaging of the dhamma of others; but both the teaching of Dhamma in its (whole) extent and so many great leaders can be seen. On the other hand, these Naked Ascetics are children of a childless mother, they both extol themselves and disparage others, and they show only three great leaders, namely Nanda Vaccha, Kisa Saṅkicca and Makkhali Gosāla”

  • Thank you. This is very helpful to me – Sue Hamilton Sep 25 at 2:02
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You can start with tranquility and concentration development; just pick one or two practices like kasina or basic Anapanasati; follow the general theme of instruction where the various teachers overlap. Read a couple manuals.

You will have to experiment but it would be hard to go so wrong that it is unbeneficial.

Learn the basic satipatthana practice as well.

As for theory, it will be a different progression than if focusing on the wisdom faculty and supporting it with much learning but you will get there on your own by going through the jhanas or by seeking out a person accomplished in insight or better both tranquility & insight.

Most likely this will be the hard part because jhana monks are few but are seemingly possible to find without great difficulty whereas one with insight is going to be hard to find, i guess.

By doing it in this way, you can hold foremost wrong views like 'maybe x is true maybe it is not true' until you figure out the answer and not be hindered by these doubts in your practice which is simple.

Other than that devotional practices, discipline, supportive meditations and giving gifts; the development of these is straight forward and will also yield results.

You could study using what is clear and relevant to you, ponder what is unclear and use critical thinking a lot when browsing internet buddhisms.

Internet boards are a good way to study the texts by topic of interest but i wouldn't advice assuming that people know what they are talking about by default.

  • Thank you. This has been helpful – Sue Hamilton Sep 27 at 7:40
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"Hoping to become enlightened" implies that enlightenment is something to gain, something to possess, something to grasp for. We grasp at things that we do not have, we grasp at things that are external. How can we grasp at something that does not have an objective existence, but is more akin to an inner state of being?

As the classic cliché goes... If you want to take a drink of water from a river or lake (and do not have a cup handy), and you go and grab at it like it were a rock or a rope, the water would all just squeeze right through your fingers. So the solution is to gently cup your hands, allowing the water to pool into them so that you may drink.

  • Thank you. I can see myself more clearly through your words – Sue Hamilton Sep 25 at 3:23
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How did a monk who was not able to learn a single stanza of Dhamma for 4 months become enlightened? Read the story of venerable Culapanthaka . If you want to be enlightened, studying the Dhamma helps a lot, but meditation is more important. Especially Vipassana meditation.

  • I read this story. Thank you for taking time to help me. – Sue Hamilton Sep 26 at 10:54
  • @SueHamilton inferiority complex is a form of ego. Drop all views involving a 'self'! – Sankha Kulathantille Sep 26 at 13:45
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Firstly, there are the six senses and their sensations - eyes and forms, ears and sounds, nose and aroma, body and tactile sensations, tongue and taste, mind and thoughts.

Secondly, there are mental concepts (a type of thought). Who YOU are, the self, is like a primary mental concept. The mind objectifies and classifies things that are sensed, relative to the self. These are also mental concepts. For example: This is MY car. That is MY father's house. I am a man. That dog is an animal (which is different compared to ME, a human).

Thirdly, cravings come out of mental concepts and sensations. For e.g. you liked the sensation of tasty food and disliked the sensation of hunger. So, this makes you experience cravings towards tasty food.

Fourthly, all suffering comes out of cravings. For e.g. if someone denies you tasty food, you become angry. If the person whom you like, spends time with others, you become jealous.

Fifthly, the path to enlightenment is simply going in reverse order in this list, and once you've reached the beginning, realizing that ultimately sensations are simply sensations. Mental concepts such as your self and relationship between sensations and your self are somewhat illusory and gives rise to cravings, and cravings give rise to suffering.

Perhaps we can say that: "All sufferings are mental"

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    Very clear instruction . Thank you – Sue Hamilton Sep 27 at 8:30
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She is already home ,she doesn't need to ask how ,she doesn't need to do nor understand anything ,she is a small woman in a small country ,and that by itself has a beauty of its own,the smallest rose flower is already enlightened ,it doesn't need to do anything to be a rose flower it doesn't have ideas on how to be an enlightened rose flower,life is happening all by itself and needs no one to fix it, just let it happen ,let the woman be what she is,and if you don't want to let it happen then thats also happening,life also wants it to happen.Trust it.

All methods of meditation are just to help you realize that fact ,once you do realize it ,then no method is needed, it will simply kill all your questions ,life happens so beautifully,so luminously every moment by itself, without someone efforting .

Enlightenment is already here ,seeing it is not knowledge its experiential realization.

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If you don't understand it- put it down. You can very easily hear or read words that explain buddha but they won't makes since. It's because words are just words. Words don't carry meaning by themselves. Questions come with answers and answers will not reveal a complete truth alone. If you sit upright by yourself and listen while breath counting to 10 and restarting for 20 minutes, some answers may find you. But you aren't looking for them in a meditative state. what you hear you should also put down. Early in, it's an echo of your own mind. Eventually things calm down a bit. A storm passes and there clarity. All day long in immaturity we tend to fight or run from abuse for the sake of moving past telling ourselves what to hear. It's when we slow down we make time to reflect and listen and not trying to explain to ourselves like children we stop being children. If you digest your suffering and let go of your wants you free your dharma and the cycle of suffering because you aren't collecting it by ignoring what you have in front of you. You probably heard: find "nothing" if you give up everything what would you have? Start by putting down all the things in your mind you don't need. Then put down all the things that are in your mind you have. Who we tell ourselves we are and who we really are aren't the same. Here's some proof: Your a woman and describe yourself as small. This can't really be you because, are you not also someone's daughter? Having said that you already know your not just someone's daughter right? These are words that fall short of meaning. I know you personally. Your working hard I believe you can do it. Put down what you know and have( in your mind) least until your mind breaks artificial illusion. Then you'll know what you don't on some level. Enlightenment is a funny thing. Here's a koan for you: Have you ever met someone who is Bigger then you all the time?

  • Thank you so much for this jewel – Sue Hamilton Sep 26 at 10:52
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' please find a good group to practice with. Do a day long retreat or a keep the precepts day. Listen to Dharma lectures. Go to a peaceful, quiet place and relax, When you are very peaceful, set an intention to be kind or friendly to someone. Remember your ancestors, and strive to be like one of your relatives that you thought was really cool or happy or, wise or intelligent or loving or gentle or alll of the above, and so on. Let go of everything and think about one Dharma teaching. Do you agree? What do you think? Read the 8 fold path and then ask a teacher about ,how can I start doing that? Good night.

  • Yes, I agree. My mother was a most loving example. Thank you for reminding me. – Sue Hamilton Sep 27 at 6:39
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Start small.

If you haven't already, begin practicing meditation, even it is just counting your breath for 5 minutes a day. As you live your daily life, make an effort to be patient and kind. If you want to do some reading, start with books that are specifically intended for beginners. (My personal recommendation is The Three Pillars of Zen.)

Once you've done that, I would suggest doing some research. Just because you live in a "small country" doesn't mean there aren't other practitioners nearby. If you can find a community within reach, visit them, even if it is only once. Practicing and talking with others in person can make a big difference in providing direction and motivation.

An analogy that I like to use is physical fitness. Few have the resources to be as fit as professional athletes, but most of us can take steps to improve our fitness. The same holds true with enlightenment. Start with achievable objectives and don't worry about the end goal until you have some experience.

The fitness analogy is good to keep in mind when you are visiting this site or reading other materials. Professional athletes have advanced training regimes, tailored specifically for their particular sport. When talking among themselves, athletes are likely to use special terminology and otherwise leverage their shared knowledge to speak efficiently; a layman is unlikely to be able to gain much from listening in on such conversations. Likewise, advanced Buddhist practitioners are apt to use terminology that is unfamiliar to beginners and leverage concepts that are often unique to their chosen tradition.

In short, try not to be overwhelmed. Focus on what you can do and build from there.

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I know nothing, even less. But everything I’ve read that has been posted here has been really helpful. It’s a beginning.

I'll try posting a wordy answer, though your question is so short as to be poetic, and seems to invite a poetic reply.

Buddhist doctrine is written in various historical texts (and practiced by contemporary people, students, teachers, monks, lay-people).

It's thought that the Pali suttas are among the oldest of the surviving Buddhist texts (Gautama Buddha lived about 2500 years ago) -- as well as the Vinaya for monks and nuns.

There are different forms or traditions (or "schools") of Buddhism in different countries -- of which some study the Pali suttas, and some study other texts (which are perhaps historically later). Many (probably a majority) of people on this site are asking questions about specific suttas -- about points of doctrine in the suttas, or about the meaning of a Pali word).

If you don't know the suttas that explains why "who does not understand many of these questions". If you want to know the suttas, it's a large topic:

In this answer, I tried to summarise that Buddhist doctrine (as I've understood it) in a single answer.

Not all forms of Buddhism involve a study of the suttas. Please correct me if I wrong, I gather that people in later schools tried to summarise the doctrine (which is also called "the dhamma" or "the dharma"), into books called abhidhammas and then people might study those summaries (if indeed they "study" at all, many people might instead learn from listening to contemporary sermons aka "dhamma talks").

I think that (i.e. not particularly studying the suttas) includes schools/traditions which might be slightly more famous in the West or English-speaking world -- e.g. "Zen" and "Tibetan Buddhism".

There's also the practice of meditation (apart from studying texts at all) -- possibly several practices of meditation (though this answer for example says that they have a common principle). Still again perhaps there are as many descriptions as there are schools or teachers, don't be too surprised about that.

Given that Threefold Training is a summary of Buddhism, then as well as doctrine ("wisdom") and meditation ("mind") I should also mention "virtue" -- i.e. behaving well, being kind, being sensible, harmless, even generous -- whether you're a lay-person or whether you're a monk or nun.

The word "enlightened" is kind of Western. Translating from one language, culture or person to another isn't always easy but instead of "enlightened" I think the suttas use words like "awake", "liberation", and "cessation" (of suffering and of the causes of suffering).

Andrei's answer to this question reminds me of the opening lines of the Dhammapada (which "is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form and one of the most widely read and best known Buddhist scriptures").

Its first two verses ...

  1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

  2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.

... I don't know which edition of it has a good commentary. It makes some sense as an introduction to Buddhism, though more sense as a summary (if you already knew a bit and recognise themes in it).

It contains many (semi-famous) one-line-summaries of Buddhism, for example verse 183:

  1. To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.

The idea of "cleansing one's mind" might be slightly contradicted or modified in the doctrines of later schools (e.g. the second poem in this Poem contest). Some people perhaps only have exposure to that kind of doctrine (e.g. that "the mind is empty of essence") -- other people only the "older" doctrine -- and some students say that their studying the older doctrine too helps to make more sense of the later.

Another way to see it is that later doctrines are often trying to describe an already-enlightened state (so they may seem 'sudden'), whereas the older suttas mostly describe a path toward enlightenment liberation (so they may seem 'gradual'). So the older suttas talk about cleansing the mind, getting rid of bad habits and clinging and so on.

So from the Dhammapada again,

  1. Think not lightly of evil, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the fool, gathering it little by little, fills himself with evil.

  2. Think not lightly of good, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.

Conversely there's this topic -- Why is the Buddha described as trackless? -- which illustrates:

  • It's difficult to describe/define the enlightenment of the Buddha
  • Translating from Pali is difficult too, and people discuss that

Given that that is liberation, I find it reminiscent of that second poem ("no stand"), mentioned previously:

Bodhi originally has no tree.
The bright mirror also has no stand.
Fundamentally there is not a single thing.
Where could dust arise?

There's also doctrine around people trying to combine enlightenment with daily/mundane life, and schools disagree on that topic. Some schools teach that a fully-enlightened person can only live as a monk or nun -- as a beggar, not as a layperson or "house-holder".

Other schools aren't so categorical (or maybe categorical in a different way), so you get aphorisms like:

I think that schools posit different stages of enlightenment, the suttas for example mention Four stages of enlightenment.

I asked a question once, which you might find appropriate -- How to explain what Buddhism is?

protected by Andrei Volkov Sep 28 at 13:48

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