Sutta Study Reflection Theme 8-4-2012

The Middle Length Discourses:  MN 77 The Greater Discourse to Sakuludayin (Mahasakuludayi Sutta)

Pages 629 – 647

Passages to read out loud:  [to be determined]

Discussion Theme:

When the Buddha was explaining reasons why his students honor him, he mentioned five reasons: virtue, direct knowledge and vision – ”When he says he sees, he truly sees”, higher wisdom, teachings ground in suffering – the Four Noble Truths, and finally that he offers a progressive training. This month let’s reflect on our relationship to the Buddha’s progressive training.

Life has taught us over and over again that success arises when projects are undertaken with a great respect to underlying structure of supporting causes. We have learned to act based on the progressive and conditional nature of how things arise and change. This is as true with our mind as it is with any external project. If we want to change the experience of mind from one of dukkha to one of freedom it makes sense that we would want to make a careful study of the underlying causes for dukkha and the underlying causes for freedom.

In sections 15 – 38 the Buddha outlines the progressive training. Let’s review these trainings with an eye to better understanding the edges of our practice, our skill and our confidence in the path. Instead of rejecting something because it seems obscure or rubs us the wrong way, let’s keep an open mind. As long as we know a particular training (way of practicing) that is releasing the mind from dukkha and setting in motion freedom we can gratefully continue to develop this training. At other times it might be useful to connect with our teacher’s teachings to see if any of his instructions might be addressing just how the mind should be training. There is an important place for deep reflection and trial and error as we encourage the mind to continue uncovering the causes for dukkha and the causes for unshakeable release.