This is how Buddhaghosa begins his ‘Path of Purification’. Many of my Buddhist friends will recognize the theme. Enjoy!
“When a wise person,
established well in Sila,
Develops Samadhi and Prajna,
ardent and sagacious,
this one succeeds in untangling this tangle.”
This is what Buddhaghosa says he will be responding to in his Visuddhimagga.
Why did the Buddha say this?
He was responding to a Deva. Answering the question of a God. Take note!
These ‘metaphysical’ interactions are common in the Buddhist scriptures. Not only in the later Mahayana texts, but also in the early texts! Buddhaghosa is not exactly ‘early’, but he was certainly closer to the source than we are today. In many ways, he lived in a different world, a world much closer to the Buddha.
Today, I notice that many western people ramble on about a “Buddhism” that obviously exists only in their assumptions— they would like a sterile system lacking what they consider to be ‘superstition’. Unfortunately, such a sterile system does not align with what we see being attributed to our (“historical”) Buddha.
Think what you want!
Believe what you want, but if you wanna call yourself a follower of the Buddha, you would do well to recognize that the western materialist cosmology does not really align with the reality described by the Buddha in the sutras. Mind is foundation there. Here, we assert the reality of some external, independent, inherently real, objective reality.
The thing is, an independent objective reality (a ‘thing in itself’) is never actually experienced or observed– all experience and observation takes place in a mind. As western physics has grown up, it has come to recognize the importance of observation. Someday, hopefully soon, the masses will catch up with their scientists.
It seems that some, with a desire to make Buddhism more attractive to the western mind, have tried to divorce the Buddha’s teaching from its wild, wild expression. Don’t believe the hype. Things are weirder than we can know. This is affirmed by the teaching of the Buddha.
Deep reality doesn’t care what surface-mind assumes. Things are not like they seem. Some of us see this clearly. We gno. Those who gno, gno. Those who don’t, don’t. That is okay. We don’t force ourselves on them, and when they force themselves on us, we acknowledge truth as truth and point out what is false as false and move along. We just don’t, we won’t, engage in foolish bickering. Passerby and fully engaged, we cannot be discouraged by paradox.
“If, bhikkhus, others speak in dispraise of me, or in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Sangha, you should not give way to resentment, displeasure, or animosity against them in your heart. For if you were to become angry or upset in such a situation, you would only be creating an obstacle for yourselves. If you were to become angry or upset when others speak in dispraise of us, would you be able to recognize whether their statements are rightly or wrongly spoken?”
“Certainly not, Lord.”
“If, bhikkhus, others speak in dispraise of me, or in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Sangha, you should unravel what is false and point it out as false, saying: ‘For such and such a reason this is false, this is untrue, there is no such thing in us, this is not found among us.’
Gno this place.
This little collection of nervous tissue (the brain) was not ‘designed’ to compute the deep gnotruth. It was designed to thrive on earth, in a human body. It was ‘designed’ by necessity. Not “designed” at all.
A brain in a jar feels no emotion. The entire network is required for the experience of being sentient. The field is conscious. Gno the field. Reidentify. Go deeper and see that the depths are calm, comfy, squishy, yummy. Rest in emptiness, interdependence, interbeing.
So, this Deva asks Gotama the Buddha:
The inner tangle and the outer tangle–
This generation is entangled in a tangle.
And so I ask of Gotama this question:
Who succeeds in disentangling this tangle?
And, we already saw the answer!
Those who are engaged in the life lived according to the Eightfold Path of the Buddha will untangle the knot. This Eightfold Path is divided into three categories: Sila (Conduct / Virtue), Samadhi (Concentration), Prajna (Understanding).
One last thing!
It is not far away.
Know what is in front of your face
and what is hidden from you will be disclosed.
There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.
His students asked him and said to him,
Do you want us to fast?
How should we pray?
Should we give to charity?
What diet should we observe?
Do not lie and do not do what you hate.
All things are disclosed before heaven.
There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed,
nothing covered that will remain undisclosed.
Look to boring ol’ everyday mundane reality to gno the supreme and bright supramundane truths.
Stop lying, to yourselves and others,
and you will not find yourselves doing what you hate.
Stop doing what you hate and you will not have to lie.
This is a path for laypeople!
The Buddha found “the wide open **in** the crowded“!
Liberation here and now.