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An Overview
The Practice of Virtue
The Development of Insight
An Overview

Section 5: Natural Wisdom

Basic Principles
In regards to the subject of restraint I will only point out the most rudimentary principles, however, these are important to give a feeling and sense of the life of the one who has taken up the discipline (or training as it is called in the ancient teachings.) Because the purpose of the training is to free us from instinctual states of self-gratification and augmentation due to the perception of ' I ', the training is very physical. Food is only to be used to ward off hunger, not to produce some ideal or beautiful body. Clothing is to be used to protect us from the elements, not to be used to augment our persona. Notice how simple, mundane and insignificant these things seem to be. However, the question has to be asked: Why did the Buddha, the Blessed One, delineate them in such great detail? It seems to me that because the training is to free us from unconscious and instinctual behavior, it has to take place on the most mundane and physical level. If we read some of the stories contained in the commentaries, it becomes clear that members of the order are exhorted to practice with commitment and true integrity. The examples of those who succeed are stories of truly heroic individuals.
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The Natural Mind of Enlightenment
Some contemporary thinkers seem to view the early forms of Buddha Dharma as a negative philosophy - they believe it negates everything. This is not true. I think this misconception is due to their ignorance of a very simple but deeply held conviction by members of the Buddhist community: the conviction is that if the unwholesome is removed, what remains is the mind of awakening. The seed of Buddha nature is present in all beings, the only difference between the average person and the Awakened Ones is that the Awakened Ones have removed or purified what obstructs and taints the mind. In this sense the teaching can focus on nothing BUT the removal of the unwholesome and trust that the natural inclination of the mind will unfold all of the higher qualities of human consciousness. Certainly in the beginning stages, when the emphasis is on training the mind to be free of the unwholesome and habitual patterns, this is the case. So we can say then, generally speaking, that we do not begin to cultivate the beautiful or positive aspects of the teaching until there is a base of morality present. It should be understood in this method of teaching, that as soon as one removes an unwholesome, then a wholesome state is what remains.

This orientation can be seen in the very structure of the language of the early Buddhist schools. For instance, the words for the three unwholesome roots - greed, hatred and delusion - are loba, dosa and moha. The prefix a denotes negation, so therefore aloba, adosa and amoha become a negation of those states. However, we would not simply translate aloba as the absence of greed or greedlessness, because it also has the connotation of generosity. Adosa is not just hatelessness, but a positive statement of loving-kindness, and amoha is not merely the absence of delusion, but connotes wisdom and intelligence. The ancients used the negated forms of aloba, adosa and amoha to denote states of natural generosity, natural kindness and natural intelligence. If the obstructions to enlightenment are removed, enlightenment is present, however, there are also active states of generosity, loving-kindness and wisdom that can be cultivated. In the Pali language, these are respectively, dana, metta, and panna. A distinction is made between the natural mind and one that is cultivated or developed. There are many passages in the Suttas where the Buddha would exhort his disciples to cultivate the mind of awakening. These teachings encourage us to develop a broad mind, cultivated in many areas, so that the richness of the human experience can be enhanced. For instance in the Mangala Sutta, the Buddha said that to develop fine handicraft or to become a learned person is of the highest blessing to mention just two. The idea is that a wide education in many areas of life is helpful in cultivating the beautiful, the wholesome and the good. Buddha Dharma should be understood to be an inclusive teaching not an exclusive one. This implies that as we let go of clinging to the unwholesome, we embrace what is wholesome. So with this in mind we can now look at a list of all that must be abandoned or renounced on the path to purification.
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