aflatun wrote:I'm tempted to ask, well then what are we supposed to do? I realize that's a loaded question, and its half rhetorical, as I'm guessing the more I read the more I'll understand the proposed intervention.
That was my first question too -- how does what Ven. Ninoslav Nanamoli say translate into actions, on a daily basis.
In "Appareance and existence," he says some things that I find they address this, namely, when he talks about responsibility. It would be too much to copy-paste all the relevant passages here, so here's just the 4th footnote:
“There is fruit and result of good and bad action…”, i.e.: “I am responsible for what I do”. Similarly, “there are… recluses and brahmins who have realised for themselves the direct knowledge…” means “Freedom from suffering is possible, and if I don’t pursue it, I, myself, am responsible for that. By not pursuing it I am responsible for remaining there where suffering can arise—I am responsible for my suffering.”
Whenever there is a responsibility, there are things to do. One can extrapolate for one's own situation how responsibility -- especially the one for one's own suffering -- translates into daily actions.
The passage I quoted I find significant because of the way Ven. Ninoslav Nanamoli translates what those definitions of "mundane" Right View mean, in terms of responsibility.
I also find it very important that he says that it is "mundane" Right View that can lead to "supramundane" Right View. In Buddhist circles, "mundane" Right View is sometimes looked down upon, as if it only serves the purpose of keeping one hoping to have a relatively good life in samsara. But here, the author views it differently than that:
Together with authenticity, there comes the sense of the fundamental responsibility for one’s own existence which is a necessary prerequisite for a puthujjana’s ‘mundane’ Right View (which can then lead further onwards toward the ‘supramundane’ Right View—the view of the Path). The reason why this attitude is a necessary prerequisite is because only with this attitude will a puthujjana be able to understand that he does not understand, and by doing so enable himself for understanding.”
The attitude he's referring to is noted earlier, as the definition of "mundane" Right View:
“There is what is given and what is offered and what is sacrificed; there is fruit and result of good and bad actions; there is this world and the other world; there is mother and father; there are spontaneously reborn beings; there are in the world good and virtuous recluses and brahmins who have realised for themselves by direct knowledge and declare this world and the other world.” (MN 117/iii,72)
On a related note, from his "Notes on meditation", his criticism of "techniques" (here just one section, there are more):
/.../ it is impossible to engage in a technique without the implicit belief that a set of motions, that the chosen technique consists of, performed in a particular mechanical order, will somehow, by itself, reveal the nature of things. By holding this belief and faith in a technique, one will not be trying to understand things, and by not making attempts toward the understanding, one will definitely remain devoid of it.
One sees things correctly – as phenomena – by understanding what the phenomenon is, and there is no technique that can make this magically occur. Thus, the closest to what one should do in order to obtain understanding is: trying to understand.
I tie this criticism of technique to responsibility and attenting to one's responsibilities. On principle, one can attend to one's responsibilities as a matter of technique: make a to-do list of daily activities that one can check off as one completes them.
For example, for the statement "There is mother and father" one could infer the responsibility and the action following from it "Clean my parents' shoes every evening"; or for the statement "There are in the world good and virtuous recluses and brahmins /../" one could infer the responsibility and the action following from it "Each morning, bow before the pictures of the Buddha and my teacher".
But if one does those actions mechanically, as techniques, as mere items to check off one one's to-do list, then --
Doing a technique in order to practice the Dhamma (i.e. see the nature of things) is like exiting the house, so as to be in it. It’s a contradiction in terms.
So I think another thing to ask oneself is whether one has attended to one's responsibilities as a matter of technique (which is similar to "attachment to rites and rituals", although "technique" can be used more broadly).