Perfections and Imperfections on the Noble Path

- through Francois Leclercq

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Often in life we ​​wonder what makes us so dissatisfied and unhappy when we would rather be happy. The Buddha, in his time, asked the same question, and his teachers offered him no satisfactory answer.

The Buddha struggled with the problem alone and finally, after five long years of effort as an ascetic in the desert, he solved the problem and found a satisfactory answer based on replacing negative intentions with positive ones. .

We can compare the untrained mind to a puppy who, when he lets go of his leash, runs wildly and does not know where he is going or what he is nibbling, and therefore can get into trouble unexpectedly. Likewise, where the human spirit wants to wander and what it needs for nourishment will determine whether it becomes poisoned and pale or grows healthy. The answer is often uncertain and that's why we all seem to suffer from the same type of emotional insecurity.

The Buddha, with astute mental development, began to notice what kinds of intentions led to unhappy results and what kinds of intentions led to happy results. He had superior intelligence and a noble mindset, so he was able to note, remember, and teach how negative emotions, such as greed, desire, desire, envy, and lust , can never be satisfied because the mind always wants more; while the opposite of positive emotions such as kindness, sharing, caring, generosity and magnanimity were satisfying, based on the effect of enjoying healthy intentions, actions and memories of giving.

The Buddha noted a consistent pattern in the appearance of intentions and emotions and how acting on them made him feel. For example, when the mind acts on negative intentions such as selfishness, worldliness, ill-will, harmfulness, or aggressiveness, we do not feel particularly happy. But when we act out of moral, ethical, virtuous, kind, and benevolent intentions (barring unforeseen disasters), we can feel happy.

And so on the model.

When we have intentions such as clinging, clinging, grasping, seizing, clinging, or clinging, we feel unfulfilled and unhappy. But when we intend to renounce, abstain, renounce, pass on or abandon, we do not feel stressed and therefore we can feel satisfied and happy.

When we subjectively intend to be indifferent, clueless, ignorant, oblivious, or clueless due to constant uncertainty, we will not be happy. But if we intend to develop our understanding, our contemplation, our intelligence and our wisdom, we can be happy.

When we are sleepy, lazy, lethargic, discouraged, or listless, we don't feel happy. But when we are energetic, fiery, vigorous, motivated and determined, we can be happy.

When we are impatient, nervous, restless, agitated, or angry, we will not be happy. But when we exercise patience, diligence, endurance, perseverance, or perseverance, we can be happy.

When we are driven to tell lies, untruths, lies, or be deceptive, we will not be happy. But when we speak honestly, with truthfulness, integrity and authenticity, we can be happy.

When we are unsure, unsure, doubtful, hesitant, or lacking confidence, we will not be happy. But when we are ardent, determined, energetic, steadfast and persevering, we can be happy.

When we are moved by feelings of dislike, disfavor, ill will, prejudice, or hatred, we are unhappy. But when we experience feelings of kindness, care, compassion, good will, and noble friendship, we can be happy.

When we experience feelings of anxiety, distress, frustration, restlessness, or apprehension, we will not be happy. But when we feel equanimity, balance, calm, serenity and peace, we can be happy.

What we have described above is only the beginning of how the Buddha developed and taught the development of the mind based on his own experience as a man born into this world. As a young prince, Siddhartha Gautama seemed to have everything that could make him happy, but with time, he found simple worldly happiness empty, as it did not meet the needs of the mind to nurture its full potential. So one day, when the time was right, he simply left his life in the palace – a life that other mortals of his time could only have dreamed of.

The Buddha's pressing questions included: "Why are we here?" and “Why do we have to suffer so much?” » We suffer because we have not yet learned which of our motives, intentions, actions and reactions are healthy and pure, and which are unhealthy and impure.

It takes a lot of diligent, ardent, insightful mental scanning (to use an analogy) to rid ourselves of impurities, to sweep the dust from the house and from the eyes. Ordinary lay practitioners should do this kind of cleansing of the eyes and the house; while arahants have already done what needed to be done, having gradually followed the path of purity to its ultimate conclusion.

We can compare these negative impulses to darkness and these positive impulses to light, and if we use the figurative analogy of the Moon, darkness symbolizes ignorance; while light symbolizes illumination.

So when we become stream entrants, we only have a tiny bit of it, a thin sliver of light. But as we develop our insight, the ribbon continues to grow slowly, bigger and bigger, until we have a half-moon, symbolizing that we have reached the halfway point of the Noble Eightfold Path. Then, as the light continues to increase, it becomes brighter and brighter until it becomes full, symbolizing that we have "seen the light", and increases in brightness until we have clear vision, completely free from all taint/darkness, finally. becoming the full moon, symbolizing the achievement of full enlightenment.

Clearing the path can be compared to dealing with blemishes and defilements, wherever they occur, in whatever way and at any time, and then gradually starving them out, one by one, giving them no attention on which to feed.

We could also imagine the Moon covered in dark clouds, which will then gradually begin to dissolve, to slowly expose the face of the Moon: first, showing a little of its face, as if through a dark veil, then, step by step. , the face of the moon becomes totally free of the smallest speck of dust – dust signifying traces of evil intentions which would lead to evil deeds which would bring back the black clouds of darkness which could begin to blur and cover the moon again. .

We want to keep a clear mind so that bad intentions do not cause us any suffering. We must therefore guard our minds with the same kind of loving care that a mother would feel for her vulnerable child, or the same kind of careful training as a loving child. the mother could give it to her family's puppy, so that he will stay safe once he is finally released from the leash.

It is not easy to reach the end of the road. But for our own safety and security, it is best that we remain attentive to the guidelines on the stages of the path, as described by the Buddha, while striving to achieve the sublime goal of Nibbana at the ultimate end of the path.

photo of author

Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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