About the Book
The lectures revolve round the crucial importance of loving kindness or Karuna, the most worth cultivating state of mind in Buddhism.
The first lecture traces the development of the concept to show its relevance for our own times. The idea was first germinated in a celebrated Pali sutta, and later epitomized by Asanga, the Yogacara philosopher. He asked what would happen if we did not have loving kindness in our hearts, if the attitude of love is lacking, without love what follows? The answer given rings true for all of us today: we become defenceless against its opposing tendencies like malice, violence, jealousy and prejudice. These destroy oneself and destroy others, destroy morality. The second lecture compares the idea of pride as in the Bodhicaryavatara with that in The Imitation of Christ and bring out the convergence of thought in the two classic-text 'The third lecture investigates the role of emotions In respect of the idea of the perfected man.
The lectures are prefaced by an essay on the theme of liberation through loving kindness or ceto vimutti as the Pali adage goes.
About the Author
Pabitrakumar Roy (born 1936) has been a British Commonwealth Scholar at King's College, Cambridge, and University of Reading; twice Fellow of Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla; Senior Fellow, Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi; Guru Nanak Dev Fellow, Panjabi University, Patiala and is presently Project Coordinator of Editing Mahayana Sanskrit Texts at Central University of Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, Varanasi. He has been Visiting Professor at the Universities at Pune, Bhubaneshwar and Jadavpur and IIAS, Shimla. He taught Philosophy for four decades at Visva Bharati and University of North Bengal. He has authored Kant and Hume: A Study in Linkages (London), Rabindranath Tagore (New Delhi), Beauty, Art and Man (Shimla), Kant's Theory of the Sublime: A Pathway to the Numinous (New Delhi), David Hume (Kolkata), Towards the Rhythmic Word: Sri Aurobindo 's Theory of Poetry (Kolkata), Mapping the Bodhicaryavatara: Essays on Mahayana Ethics (Shimla), and papers in professional journals and anthologies, and edited several volumes of papers on Buddhism. His specializations span Moral Psychology and Theory of Values.
It was the kind courtesy of Professor Peter Roland de Souza to ask me to deliver three lectures at Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla as a Visiting Professor. I thank him for his kindness. The lectures were delivered in June, 2010
It has always been a pleasure for me to visit HAS, I have had the privilege of being there as a Fellow on two tenures. This time I was happier to meet old friend there, and make new ones.
Dr Shashank V. Thakur, the Academic Research Officer and Shri Ashok Kumar Sharma, the Public Relations Officer, have been generous in keeping with the HAS tradition of hospitality, I thank them.
It was a wonderful time interacting with the Fellows and the Inter-University Associates amid the panorama of blue hills around and whispering pine trees. The memory will linger.
Ceto Vimutti: Liberation through Loving Kindness the distinction of the mind and the mental states is spelled in Buddhist discourse as that between citta and chaityasika, and it has important bearing upon the Buddha's teachings on both ethics and psychology. It has become well-known that he devised a phenomenological, method of meditation called oipassand. It consists in gathering information about one's presently occurring states of body and mind, and it is upon an analysis of the human condition that a philosophical anthropology is to be erected. A close analysis of individual experience comes down to deep moral seriousness. There is a moral order, human actions have moral consequences, and it is that one cannot do anything without reaping consequences. To this moral causation all are subjected. Originally the teaching was viewed as directed to sentient beings in so far as they are capable of misery and final liberation from misery. But the teaching also touched sentient beings as moral agents, as agents capable of affecting the welfare not only of themselves but of others as well.
And are the two matters always intimately and necessarily connected? There is asense of crisis in most of the Buddha's teachings.
All our experience, even that of common happiness, is bracketed by pain and sorrow. The problem of suffering is a pressing one, demanding a solution. This is not conventional pessimism. Association with what is disliked is suffering, dissociation from what is desired is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering. So famously the view of human life is worked out. It is both a focus on an intimate concern with what is immediately observable, and also a general description of suffering as it appears in everyday situations, an acute consciousness of failure, or of frustration, or of unfulfilled yearning, the missed opportunity, the irksome routine and the irritation of life. Dukkha is a pervasive discomfort, dissatisfaction, or discontent. This teaching points to the inescapably changing nature of life, which engulfs all the things we believe and take to he secure and stable.
We have here a dispassionate description of human plight, suffering experience. Under the introspecting eye dukkha discloses a wider range of meanings: imperfection, impermanence, evanescence, inadequacy, insubstantiality, incompleteness, and so on. Whatever surfaces as visible examples dukkha is inherent in all experience. Experience is itself suffering.
Let us take the case of feeling or oedand. as a paradigm.
Feeling is one of the objects of introspection, and is an aspect of experience in the mind and body. It may be physical or mental, and adjudged pleasant, unpleasant or neither pleasant nor unpleasant. We are called upon to discern it as either of these. Feelings arise and die away, however much they may clamour for attention, they last for a while, one chases the other, some come back again. They are impermanent, and we may not place reliance on neither, they are suffering by virtue of change, inadequate and unsatisfying in themselves. Inadequacy rules throughout our experience of both body and mind. The analysis further reveals that objects of experience, the respective organism involved, and the consequent consciousness of experience, called the mind, are indissolubly linked. They are conjoined, none of the three is conceivable without the other. It is impossible to separate them. There is one, interdependent ever-changing complex, called a 'self', of course, improperly so-called, it is dynamic but without having anything lasting therein. This in a process view of human life and existence. An analytic description of the process comprises of the five aggregates, namely, materiality (physical objects, the body, and sense organs), feeling, perceptions, impulses and consciousness. The Buddha said that these aggregates arise, decay and die, and hence we, from moment to moment, are born, decay, and die. Feeling is though one face of the process, yet the mutability and inadequacy of feeling are characteristic of the entire process. Our existential vulnerability is exposed by the Buddha. He does not deny that there are satisfactions in experience. The point is always to see them clearly. What is denied is that such happiness is secure and lasting. Every so often the vulnerability is rendered inconspicuous or suppressed, and may become at times invisible as in many societies of the globalized villages. Without the said vulnerability, there will be little sense in connecting suffering with unsatisfactioness, and when it is so done the connection will have a compelling cogency.
But where are we to look for the cause of our existential vulnerability? The canonical account tells us of the dramatic moment in which the Buddha saw the 'house- builder', (Dhammapada, 153-4), the cause of our flawed and unsatisfactory existence. Thinking of the cause not in an abstract way, he thought about it by using analogies from practical activities. To take one, if a person wishes to start a fire, he has to be mindful of enabling causes and conditions, such as the dryness of the stick, ete. But the chief cause lies with the agent, the man making the fire. The chief cause is somewhat agent-like, a purposive and active principle, but on the ultimate analysis, it is an impersonal process, not an agent or person at all.
It is thirst or craving which drives the suffering experience forward. The term is tanbd, meaning 'craving' or 'desire'. It is insatiable craving, seeking fresh pleasure, not only here and now, but also across life-spans beyond, and thus gives rise to repeated existence. this craving is bound up with impassioned appetite, and hence the analogy of fire. Each facet of experience is viewed as aflame with desire.
The story of craving tell us a lot more. One craves not only what is attractive but also relief or escape from what is unpleasant or undesirable. We keenly desire to escape pain. We crave a great deal, wealth, power, position, we lust after our own bodies, or a new body in rebirth. There is even a thirst for views, the urge to be right, to be in the know, to have an answer for every questions. In a comprehensive manner of speaking, craving is the thirst for existence, the desire for becoming other than what present experience gives. It has many guises, a striving for satiety and permanence, and it is always frustrated. Craving is written into the five aggregates, and it matters little if it travels from moment to moment or is reborn in another life. The nature of existence is to become other, it is committed to becoming. It becoming other, the relish brings fear, and whatever brings fear is pain. The lust pervades all sentient life. This is the microscopic view of the human condition, all aspects of experience in the mind and body, in which clinging inheres are suffering. That is how we come to be in this sorry plight.
Now craving is the chief motive cause, yet it could not subsist or take hold without subsidiary, enabling causes. Among these there is one especially important, and this is ignorance or delusion. Just as without oxygen fire cannot arrive, so without being nourished by ignorance thirst for existence would not have been there.
Thus far the teaching has been amoral. But the Buddha addressed himself to others with the same concern for personal salvation. He was deeply concerned with the evaluation of behaviour and its effects on others. His already amoral teachings are inalienably linked with his thought with others, and point to a moral significance in the human condition. Our impulses could be viewed as intentions or choices, subsumed under the concept of cetand. A choice is a mental movement which precedes action or speech. Intentions could be and often are unexpressed, and do have effects, if not outwardly, then inwardly in the mind. The Buddha held that in human affairs it is the mental choice or intention which is of ultimate significance. The world is led by mind. Intentions are not negligible, and bring about consequences. They are regarded as karma or mental actions, and not results of action as they are commonly supposed. They make one's world, we reap their consequences in suffering. They form our psychic life.
Choices and actions are the stuff of moral discourse.
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