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1 cetovimutti - Christina Garbe 1 Theravāda Buddhism Christina Garbe Theravāda means the school of the elders. It is the original Buddhism, which is based on the teachings of Buddha Gotama, who lived in India about 2500 years ago. Although Buddhism is one of the world religions, it is more a method of training the mind with the aim of purification, development and mental liberation. Religion in the literal sense of 'reconnection', reconnection to the view of things as they really are, one can however apply here. The teachings of the Buddha are not a religion merely based on faith. It is a way of exploring the laws of our own existence. The Buddhist teachings have nothing mystical. All steps of the path of insight and liberation can be proved by one's own experiences. The Buddha himself has instructed his students to prove his teachings carefully by their own practice. The Buddha was not a God nor a prophet of God, but a human being who has developed a path of mental development with the aim of abandoning suffering. He himself went this path. The cause of suffering lies according to the knowledge of the Buddha in craving (lobha), aversion (dosa) and delusion (moha), because these roots of consciousness create unpleasant results. The Buddha has found a way to overcome these suffering causing roots completely. This path leads to a state free from craving, aversion and delusion. By actively working on one's own mind one can become free from defilements and experience real happiness. Buddho means an enlightened or awakened being. Buddhism is the doctrine which leads to awakening or enlightenment. Awakening in the Buddhist sense is the end of all mental defilements by developing wisdom. This goal can still be achieved nowadays. The path to this goal one has to go through certain stages by exploring the entire existence. Thus, the teachings of the Buddha are a way of life that should be based on one's own strength and determination to investigate on all parts of life. It is a wholesome way to happiness and peace in this life and beyond this life. Meditation is an essential part of this practice. (see Samatha/Vipassanā) The Theravāda Buddhism, the original Buddhism, is still practiced today mainly in Burma, as in Thailand and Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Laos. The Teachings (Dhamma) The Buddha Gotama describes the path he has developed, the teachings (Dhamma), with 6 aspects: 1. Well Delivered: this view means that the teachings are noble, because they lead to wholesomeness, to the liberation of beings from suffering, and that they are experienced by

2 cetovimutti - Christina Garbe 2 the Buddha himself, and then explained in detail. 2. Visible: this aspect means, that when practiced correctly, one can realize the teachings by oneself and one can see the path and attain it. 3. Not bound to any time: this aspect one can see in two ways, that the practice always bears good fruits immediately and in the future; on the other hand, the law of the teachings is always valid and not bound to a special time. 4. Inviting: the doctrine is so pure and clear that it invites to practice immediately. 5. Stimulating or leading to the goal: the doctrine encourages to practice, because it leads to liberation. 6. To be realized by the wise: many beings have acquired by the teachings wisdom. They attained liberation from suffering. The Four Noble Truths As a conclusion we can find the teachings, on which Theravāda Buddhism is based, as the Four Noble Truths, which the Buddha explained after his own awakening in his first dhammatalk: Stupa in the deerpark in Sarnath/ India, where the Buddha set the wheel of his teachings in motion with the explanation of the Four Noble Truths (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta). The Four Noble Truths: (which are to be developed - bhāvanā) 1. The truth of the difficulties and problems (dukkha) which can appear in existence (body and mind), namely as: sorrow, lamentation, worry, physical discomfort/pain, mental unease (sadness, anxiety, depression, burnout, etc.), despair; not to get what one wants; to be together with people and things one does not like; to be separated from beloved ones and desired things;

3 cetovimutti - Christina Garbe 3 impermanence of all conditioned arisen phenomena, as changing experiences of happiness and suffering; summarized as the unsatisfactoriness in the 5 groups of existence (body, feeling, perception, mental factors, consciousness). This truth has to be investigated and to be fully understood. 2. The truth of the cause of difficulties: Thirst (desire, attachment, dependency and aversion due to an unclear view of things). These causes are explained by the Buddha in detail as 12 factors of Paṭiccasamupāda, dependent origination. This truth has to be overcome (by directly knowing the causes). 3. The truth of the end of all difficulties: Nibbāna, the Unconditioned, the Desireless, the Signless or the end of desire, aversion and delusion. This truth has to be realized. 4. The path that leads to the overcoming of the difficulties, The Noble Eightfold Path: Training in wisdom: 1. Right view 2. Right thought Training in morality: 3. Right speech 4. Right action 5. Right livelihood Training in concentration: 6. Right effort 7. Right mindfulness (sati) 8. Right concentration This truth has to be practiced. The Noble Eightfold Path includes the three essential trainings in Theravāda Buddhism: ethical behaviour concentration wisdom The realization of the four noble truths is not only a temporary strategy of solving acute problems, but it is the final liberation from suffering. At the lifetime of the Buddha Gotama it was in India very common to search for a final solution for overcoming suffering inherent in existence. The Buddha searched for a way and has found a way. Pāḷicanon We have this teaching, called Dhamma, nowadays in written, traditional form, the Pāḷicanon, as well as an authentic line of practice. The knowledge has been given from those who have realized it from generation to generation. Only in this way, by beings who have realized the teachings leading to awakening, the doctrine can be maintained after the death of a selfawakened Buddha. The scriptures provide the ability to compare one's own experiences.

4 cetovimutti - Christina Garbe 4 The Pāḷicanon was proved and confirmed since the death of the Buddha Gotama in 6 councils. The first council was held in India three months after the death of the Buddha Gotama. The sixth took place from 1954 to 1956 in Myanmar (Burma). The Pāḷicanon consists of three parts, called baskets (tipitaka). The first basket is the Vinaya, the rules of conduct with explanations, which the Buddha gave to his disciples to bring them closer to the goal of awakening and for a harmonious coexistence, free from quarreling. The second basket are the discourses (suttā), the Buddha expounded. They are collected in 5 collections, called Nikāya. The third basket is the Abhidhamma, translated as higher teachings. Here we find meditation experiences listed in a systematic way. The suttā provide the instructions, the Abhidhamma shows the result. One can only understand the Abhidhamma, when one starts to practice according to the suttā. As an example the practice taught in Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta The well-known Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta, The Great Discouse of the Foundations of Mindfulness, is divided in 4 parts of developing mindfulness: 1. contemplation of the body (kāyānupassanā) 2. contemplation of feelings (vedanānupassanā) 3. contemplation of consciousness (cittānupassanā) 4. contemplation of mind objects (dhammānupassanā). The first chapter begins with the description of mindfulness of breathing (ānāpānasati). The mindfulness on the breath is a samatha meditation which leads to deep concentration, namely to the 4th jhāna 1. At the end of this sutta the Buddha describes that right concentration in the sense of the noble eightfold path is the attainment of the 4 jhānā. Furthermore he instructs in this first chapter to develop in all postures and during all activities one performs in the course of a day not only mindfulness (sati), but also clear comprehension. More instructions in this chapter of the dhammatalk are: the observation of the 32 parts of the body as unattractive, by this one can achieve the first jhāna, the four elements meditation, which should be practiced in all postures, as well the contemplation of corpses with which the first jhāna can be achieved. At the end of each chapter, based on the samatha-concentration of the 4th jhāna, as described at the beginning of this discourse, the Buddha instructs, to observe the body internally and externally. Based on this, the next step is to observe the rise and fall of phenomena, and their causes. 1 Jhāna states are states of deep concentration in which the mind is completely absorbed in the object of observation. The defilements can not occur, the mind is clear, purified, and therefore capable for insight.

5 cetovimutti - Christina Garbe 5 Then follow the chapters about the remaining three parts of developing mindfulness: the contemplation of feelings, the contemplation of consciousness and the contemplation of mind objects. After analysing each of these parts, the contemplation internally and externally has to follow, as well as the contemplation of the rise and fall of the factors and their causes have to be completed. When one practices in this manner the Abhidhamma is a useful support to compare one's own experiences. If one does not create the preconditions for the understanding of the Abhidhamma in one's own stream of consciousness, that is jhāna concentration, one cannot estimate its value. The dimension of consciousness from the 4th jhāna, based on which the Buddha himself practiced, is an entirely different state of mind than that of the usual thinking mind. Therefore Abhidhamma remains for a mind that is on an every day level of consciousness or an only intellectually approaching mind finally incomprehensible. In the later written commentaries, the two parts of the Tipitaka, the suttā (teachings) and the Abhidhamma are often combined to help the practitioners to know about their own practice. Or to make the instructions in the suttā, the Buddha gave based on the knowledge of individual listeners, more understandable and easier to practice for a wider audience. Thus we find in Visuddhi Magga 2, a manual of Buddhist meditation, based on the Tipitaka, broad explanations for suttā instructions how to develop the practice effectively and satisfactorily. Unfortunately, these relationships are forgotten in certain circles due to the degeneration of the practice in Theravāda Buddhism for several centuries, finally due to unqualified teachers. The opportunities of profound insight (vipassanā) and liberation, resulting from the correct practice according to suttā and Abhidhamma of Theravāda Buddhism, go far beyond the modern tendencies of working with one's mind, which is often also called Vipassanā. With correct practice there are developed long lasting states of wholesome happiness and wholesome joy (joy is one of the enlightenment factors) that are supporting to go this path to the end of the overcoming of all defilements. Theravāda Buddhism in Western countries Until the end of the nineteenth century, the Buddhist teachings were quiet unknown in the West, in America and Europe. Only in the last century, centers spread in Western countries and the Pāḷicanon was translated into Western languages. So the teachings of the Buddha are quiet young in Western countries and do not really have found a cultural integration. 2 A basic commentary of the Pāḷicanon, about practicing meditation, we find in the Visuddhi Magga, written in the 5th century by the Indian monk Acariya Buddhaghosa.

6 cetovimutti - Christina Garbe 6 Goal of Theravāda When we read the teachings (suttā) of the Buddha Gotama, it is obvious that his teachings have a clear goal, the goal of complete eradication of defilements. This means the attainment of the fourth stage of awakening, of arahatship. This goal includes the realization of Nibbāna, called the Unconditioned or the cessation of all kinds of craving. Concerning teaching of the Dhamma the Buddha said in MN 8 Sallekha Sutta: "Cunda, that one who is himself sinking in the mud should pull out another who is sinking in the mud is impossible; that one who is not himself sinking in the mud should pull out another who is sinking in the mud is possible. That one who is himself untamed, undisciplined, not having attained Nibbāna, should tame another, discipline him, and help to attain Nibbāna is impossible; that one who is himself tamed, disciplined, having attained Nibbāna, should tame another, discipline him, and help to attain Nibbāna that is possible."

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