Monday, June 17, 2013

Buddha on Attaining Nirvana

"Resolutely train yourself to attain peace."

Utthana Sutta: On Vigilance 
Comment: A close reading of this sutta should convey that attaining peace is Nirvana.  So to attain Nirvana struggle toward peace.  Peace is Nirvana.

A few days ago I was telling a friend that one of the clearest and most precious memories I have of my late father came at a time of intense turmoil in my personal life.

My dad listened to me convey my misgivings with patience and then handed me one of the greatest gifts I still carry and call on when things get hectic.  The gift is made up of these simple yet powerful words:
"May you find peace of mind."
At least two decades have passed since my dad uttered these words which can be considered a prayer or wish for resolution or Nirvana in Buddhist terms.

In years gone by I thought that violence could be cleansing in a Fanonian sense.  I have discarded that thinking because it is myopic and mistaken.

Violence is never a means toward anything and certainly not toward peace.  This is particularly in matters of politics - I am reminded of this wisdom from the Tao Te Ching (30):
"Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men
doesn't try to force issues
or defeat enemies by force of arms.
For every force there is a counterforce.
Violence, even well intentioned,
always rebounds upon oneself."
The wisdom offered here is that violence is never good and never a last resort.  The notion of rebound (blowback is the fashionable term now) is almost certain when we turn to violence as means and measure in matters of life and living.

And it is perhaps equally important to expand what is meant by violence to include greed, selfishness, and neglect.


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