How do we become the entity, or person, we are to emulate as we arrive at the home of blissful awakening? To be with the bodhisattva – as we aspire to what matters.
It is as if our future is to be adapted to the role we are to play. As we deal with flaws we are here to change. It is this inability, or lack of courage and desire to change, that inhibits our growth and keeps us tied to the present, dharma (our essential selves), and samsara (the indefinitely repeated cycles of birth, misery, and death caused by karma). As we move to correct conduct, meditation, and discerning wisdom. That emptiness plus compassion equals unconditional love.
It is returning to thoughts of what is known as aspirational bodhicitta, as in having an awakened mind. The wish to overcome our emotional afflictions and delusions to realize our full potential to bring all fellow beings to the enlightened state free from suffering.
I often refer to the teachings of Taoism, and Lao and Chuang Tzu. Even the stories found as a reference point told by Lieh Tzu. Taoism equates to our acknowledging the beginning and ending of things and what role we are here to play. Along with Buddhism, reminding us of the impermanence found in all things found in nature. As we too are teachers when we have found our way. Although in reality we are always the student moving beyond the present to who we are yet to become. There is an ancient saying that says “When we are ready the teacher will arrive at out doorstep. The lesson is that the teacher is us.”
As if an old tree limb from above falling in a strong wind as a reminder of our own presence. It’s time in the present spent, but nutrients found in the limb ready to play a role in enriching something yet unseen or known. The eternal ebb and flow of nature’s sway. Could our role be any more or less important? Just as re-incarnation has never been simply an Eastern philosophy belief, great philosophers in Western thought have felt the same from the earliest of days as well.
Below even Plato, whose wisdom has helped to guide western civilization for over two thousand years, expresses opinions on innate verses learned reasoning. It is that we are to dedicate our lives to virtue and merit for the sake of enlightenment for both ourselves and others. Reminding us of leaving an outcome that is yet to be determined and only doing what we are here to do.
In the West, we often look to the teachings of Plato and ancient Greece. Historically, we can look to Plato’s Theory of Recollection as a key to how we view ourselves that is often called the Anamnesis Theory that was found in Plato’s Main dialogue. After reading, you will understand this theory of personal development in which the concepts of innate ideas that each human being possesses are found.
What is Plato’s Theory of Recollection? This theory was found in Plato’s epistemology, in his dialogue Main (virtue) and Phaedo (soul) as a principle of knowledge. In the Theory of Recollection, according to Plato, it is the remembrance of the ideas that each human being possesses in an innate way in the soul.
This idea reminds me so much of the writings of Chuang Tzu and his “pivot” that we all take. That knowledge is not simply found in the external world, but is intrinsically located as an institutional memory in our consciousness.
This theory affirms that the soul of the human being is immortal and knows the truth before entering the body. Therefore, man gradually remembers what the soul already knew when it inhabited the world of ideas. But which the soul, already being in the human body, buries in the depths of being as knowledge, which is gradually remembered with the physical realities of the sensible world. For Plato, knowledge is an idea that is divided into two segments: the sensitive world and the intelligible world. The sensitive world is composed of shadows, images, and objects where opinion is triggered as the intermediate between ignorance and knowledge. Mathematics and ideas are what generates knowledge. Intuition and reasoning are the pillars for knowledge. It is also considered that knowledge is reminiscence, remembering what the soul already knew, since the soul is eternal. These thoughts are continued below.
As stated earlier we continue with our conduct as an expression of our motivation. This idea has been the thread of the King of Meditation Sutra we have been following. What is the circle of life, as expressed so well above with the medicine wheel and mandala, but what moves us beyond where we now sit that further defines our presence? Mahayana Buddhism as illustrated by The King of Meditation Sutra, as well as others including Plato, continues below in Chapter 13A. The final entry 13B will follow representative of the continuing eternal journey we all take together.
In the footsteps of Bodhisattvas – Chapter 13A Living and upholding the Dharma.
Key thoughts: Dedicate yourself to the practice of the Dharma with enlightenment and virtue.
- An important key in adapting to our role: To resist temptation in initiating anything not in keeping with our eternal presence – to only deal with what flows through you from the universe. This is the meaning of following your ultimate bliss. To limit yourself for appearances sake. Going from aspirational to engaged bodhicitta means engaging in the practices and behavior that bring about this goal by taking the bodhisattva vows to restrain from actions detrimental to it.
In taking the bodhisattva vow, a personal commitment is made to abstain from certain negative acts that would keep the bodhisattva from reaching enlightenment and thereby to be of as much benefit to others as is possible. For myself, it is like meditation and being continually present. In practical terms there are four areas for bodhicitta to resolve: 1) Each day and night, recalling the advantages of the bodhicitta motivation. 2) Remembering, re-affirming, and intensifying this motivation by rededicating our hearts to our enlightenment and the enlightenment of others. 3) Striving to build up positive mental states, deep awareness, and wisdom. Benefiting and helping others using all the skills and means at our disposal as effectively as we can, and doing so with as much deep awareness of reality as is possible. 4) Never giving up trying to help anyone, or at least wishing to be able to do so, no matter how difficult he or she may be.
- Our faith in the teachings, renunciation, and ordination are key in dedicating our mind to awakening (Chapter 25 of The King of Meditation Sutra). Understanding the intent and purpose of the dharma as the essential quality or character of the cosmos or one’s own nature. The Dharma is often seen as the doctrine or teachings of the Buddha. So that when we are practicing the Dharma, we are in effect living within the meaning and context of those teaching.
- We are to be dedicated to the practice of the Dharma and virtue as the path to enlightenment. We are to acknowledge our own merit in the face of the temporary conditions we find ourselves. Dharma is an important Hindu, Buddhist, and yogic concept, referring to a law or principle which governs the universe. For an individual to live out their dharma is for them to act in accordance with this law. Dharma is one of the three jewels of Buddhism, alongside sangha and buddha, together.
- In recalling our innate virtue we are to continue our vows, practice, and conduct with a sense of dedication and purpose. Essentially, your dharma means your purpose in life. Your dharma is your true calling – what you were put here to do.
Plato’s conception is that the soul is immortal and that it leads to reincarnation from the ethical realm. He was sure of this because in this way, one can reward just people or punish unjust people when the soul passes to another body. Another conception is reminiscence, the soul remembers what it knew before. This means that the soul exists before the birth of the human being and will not cease to exist after his death. An idea central in Buddhist teachings as well.
This means that the soul exists before the birth of the human being and will not cease to exist after his death. According to Plato, true knowledge must come from the mind/soul.
An example of this is mathematics in which one does not need to feel or experiment to arrive at a true result, but on the other hand sensations cause the person to create individual perceptions subject to subjective opinion that is not necessarily true. The solution to reach freedom according to Plato is to reach the maximum knowledge, if this is not achieved the soul will continue rotating through different bodies until finally returning to the world of ideas.
That is why the human being, despite having hidden or buried knowledge, takes charge little by little of bringing it to light, remembering the ‘knowledge’ by objects that are copies of the world of ideas, called by Plato Anamnesis which is memory or reminiscence. Like a particular act or instance of recalling or the thing remembered. In more practical terms we might call this our memory, ability to recall past events, or what we call our recollection or remembrances.
Eckhart Tole tells us that we “die before we die. Your physical form is dissolving, is no more. Yet you are still there – the divine presence that you are and fully awake. Nothing that was ever real ever dies, only names, forms, and illusions.”
I often see this as a previously learned experience of events that may have happened long ago embedded in our memory that I refer to as remembrances.
This was verified again on my first visit to Qufu in October 1999. It was like eternally coming home again. The triggers were amazing. Walking down streets I had been before.
Then years later living and teaching next to the Confucius Mansion and Temple and the school where Confucius’ descendants had lived, gone to school and taught others more than ten years later. Serving as a reminder that it is what we return to and continue that defines both our journey as well as the path of others.
Plato teaches us that knowledge does not come from the external world but from the interior of each person as memories are awakened. This being where the teacher, master or guide can help direct this knowledge in an adequate manner. This idea was central to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings on nature and what was to become the transcendental movement later to be known as New Thought. Although, it was not new, only incarnated or re-packaged in another way for the benefit of a new age and audience. His poem here kind of sums it up:
The rounded world is fair to see,
Nine times folded in mystery:
Though baffled seers cannot impart
The secret of its laboring heart,
Throb thine with Nature’s throbbing breast,
And all is clear from east to west.
Spirit that lurks each form within
Beckons to spirit of its kin;
Self-kindled every atom glows,
And hints the future which it owes.
The Theory of Recollection comes from philosophy, which is the study of the truth about fundamental problems that embrace knowledge, existence, truth, beauty, love, and language. Philosophy oversees making debates that make the human being reflect and, above all, to ask all kinds of questions to arrive at the truth with rational arguments.
- Returning to The King of Meditation Sutra we can better accept, appreciate, and understand our role along with the value of accumulated virtue and merit. With this, we are to move forward on the path that takes us to our highest endeavor.
Upholding our practice in keeping with our ultimate destiny seems to be our greatest challenge. This idea of maintaining accumulated virtue and merit is like keeping our resources (money) in an eternal bank account. How much are we here to spend, countered by how much more we are here to earn that will shape and take us there. We are to continually prepare for what comes next as we outline our lives in pencil not pen and impermanence. All the while knowing and repeating Tolle – “Nothing that was ever real ever dies”.
Numbers 6 through 18 of Chapter 13 of The King of Meditation continues in 13B to follow.