Course Plan – Part 2

In the Part 2 course we look at Buddhism from two , maybe touching three perspectives. From the perceiving mind outlook, lets call these; ‘the imagined’, ‘the imaginable’ and ‘the unimaginable’.

The imagined is everything that has arisen, perceived, in a mind including all sensations, feelings, emotions, images and thoughts. This flux of perceptions, mental events, forever changes. It is sometimes termed the moving mind. Its main characteristic is movement, moving from one state to another, in response to the changing mental events. What manifests in terms of perceptions or events, depends on the state of the mind, whether the mind is open and expansive or stuck in a state . If its stuck in a state it may well be bound up by some mixture of greed , hatred or ignorance. If its more open then its likely their opposites; Generosity, Love and Wisdom are in play. Here ignorance refers to the topsy turvy views – that life is potentially permanent, substantial and satisfactory – the three lakshanas as discussed in week 6 of the Part 1 course.

The imaginable ‘might then include all the potential sensations, feelings, emotions, thoughts and images that could possibly be imagined by the mind stretching out creatively towards states relatively free from the constraints of greed, hatred and ignorance.

A mind might then become nearly boundless, possibly on the the edge of the imaginable, touching ‘the unimaginable’. Notice we can point to ‘beyond the imaginable’ even though we know by definition our minds will not be able to even sense there. For the scientific amongst us, its a bit like imagining beyond the edge of a Black hole’s event horizon. Still maybe the unimaginable can still have agency or effect perceived reality.

The unimaginable might then be awareness beyond any constraints, a realm the mind that can just infer , possibly perceive in some stirring or the heart , but not cognised or express directly, maybe between the lines in myth. A state of mind beyond states of mind. That might be a little like before the big bang, , or perceiving that unperturbed electron not subject to a transistion – It needs to change state to be perceived.`

So, part 2 places the practical development of the mind, as explored in Part 1, in the context of the imaginative realm of Buddhism .

Part 2 also looks to what might help us develop and maintain our interest and commitment in growing, in changing our mind positively, so we can consolidating and maintain development and have an eye and enthusiasm for our own personal ‘next steps’.

The practical aspects of the Buddhism, expoused in Part 1, create a mind with calmed states able to apply attention to practicing in the imaginal realms and able to manifest the necessary faculties , of openheartedness and mental clarity required to start steering into the depths of true meaning. This is into the realm of Mahayana Buddhism.

Its at this stage we need to follow the eastern Buddhist perspective world view, more closely and as this has emerged out of cultures from India and the East, we need to start to use Pali and Sanskrit language terms. We will try hard to clarify the meaning of such terms in a local , European, context as possible as we proceed.

Three main aspects of Buddhism; the Buddha, the teaching (Dharma) and the community (Sangha) , termed the three refuges, are explored. They are explored not just in the realm of conceptual mind but also in the realm of the imagination – the imaginal. Its a bit like ‘ as above’ – ‘so below’ from the western tradition. This seems to fit how the mind experiences.

Buddhist practices is much about taking these aspect to heart and giving them space at the centre of our attention. If we think about it, we all go for refuge to something(s). In Buddhist practice we shift the emphasis more and more from refuge in sensations and pleasures of the world towards the wisdom and happiness arising from the practice of ethics and meditation, towards training the mind, changing it so it resonates with reality. It really helps here to bear in mind, the possibility of an enlightened mind,that the teachings really point in the right direction and giving and receiving from the supportive community helps us grow . As we develop and our minds change in harmony with our practice we can become more aware of our inner life and more direct connecting directly in the imaginal.

In the first dimension, ‘So below’,the mind in the realm of the body is mostly tied to feelings from the senses and reactive responses. In the second, ‘As Above’, the mind in the realm of the imagination, more aware of beauty and connecting with empathy and well wishing with others. These realms correspond to the first two levels of the Trikaya mentions above.

Exemplar:
The Buddha
Truth and Teaching:
The Dharma
Supportive Community:
The Sangha
In the realm of the WorldIn the footsteps of the Buddha’s life. Points we can learn from the Buddha’s lifeThe Buddha’s Teaching
4 Noble Truths, 8 Fold Path and Meditation
The value of connecting and developing with others.
In the realm of the ImaginationArchetypes and inner meaning:
Shakyamuni Buddha
Wisdom beyond words:
The Heart Sutra
The White Lotus Sutra
Collective Manifestations of Enlightenment:
The Mandela of the Five Buddha and more

The first in how Buddhist teaching and practice plays out in the world. It considers the life experienced by the Buddha, his teaching and the need for spiritual friends and community. Its Buddhism in the realm of the Nirmanakaya, the real of material form.

The second arises from the application of the imagination through a trained ethical attitude and meditation to the realization of the archetypal Buddha the enlightened mind gone beyond the constraints of the human condition. This is the Sambodakaya, the realm of Mahayana Buddhism, Here the Dharma and Sangha are considered in ways that have given rise to the sutras, for example the Sutra of Amitaysus Buddha which is just so grand in its imaginative scale or the so succinct wisdom beyond words in the Heart Sutra, which we visit in week 10, or the image of a Buddha mind exemplified in the Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa . And in s similar fashion consideration of the archetypal Buddha through ethical attitude and meditation gives rise to the Aryasangha , the realm of the Buddha Mandela and the Bodhisattva.

And, the Third is the realm of reality, awareness beyond cognizable thought, but from which beauty and truth can manifest in the Sambodakaya and the Nirmanakaya. It kind of corresponds to Varjasattva glimmering on the edge of the imagination , manifesting with deepest meaning into the Sambodakaya.

Whats in each week

Week 7  Siddhartha’s life

His vision and his path to enlightenment and Buddha-hood

In light of The Buddhist path of ‘Ethics, Mediation and Wisdom.’ discussing the path and development of Siddhartha Gautama Shakya to Shakyamuni Buddha – and what has this to say about our personal development

  • Developing the idea of ‘Being the moment’ with a vision based taste for ‘direction and purpose’.
  • The Triratna system of practice for achieving transformation of heart and mind
  • Aspects of the Buddha’s life discussed:

See A Guide to the Buddhist Path (Paperback) by Sangharakshita

See also Introducing Buddhism (Paperback) by Vanya (Chris Pauling)

Meditation Mindfulness of Breathing

Week 8 The Buddha’s Legacy and the Buddha as Archetype

From the life of Siddhartha to  the inner meaning of Shakymuni -.

 After Siddhartha became Shakyamuni things were set in motion by his life and 40 years of teaching.

Vision and Transformation and the Buddha as example and archetype

Meditation: Metta Bhavana


Week 9 The Dharma

Teachings from the life of the  Buddha.  – From the Four Sights to the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-fold Path:

The ideas of Vision and Transformation 

Meditation: Mindfulness of Breathing

Week 10  The Inner Meaning of The Dharma

Spiritual Receptivity and the Mahayana Sutras 

Exploring Fearless Compassion as a direct route to Insight

The concept of Wisdom Beyond Words

The Heart Sutra –  a short Mahayana Sutra

Meditation: Metta Bhavana

Week 11 The Sangha in centers and the community

The spiritual community as mutual support –

Then and Now (2500BC —– 2020CE)

The land-based sangha from the first disciples to the monastic order and laity.

Modern Buddhist Sanghas,

The Triratna Order and the Triratna community. 

Contributing to and supporting our spiritual family.

Meditation: Mindfulness of Breathing 

Week 12 The Sangha, the archetypal Sangha

  • The land of the Imaginal
  • The Arya  Sangha.
  • The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
  • Buddhist ritual, an understanding.  

Meditation: Metta Bhavana

and possibly a 7 Fold Puja.