Continuing the exploration of what the Dhamma means in the 21st century, the basic precepts of Buddhism were discussed. Peter explained that the precepts are organized around the cultivation of wisdom, which is the combination of clear awareness and benevolent intention. The potential value of using the word commitment rather than precept was explained as commitment implies an action phase. A new list of commitments was provided (which will be posted on the web site), carefully constructed to convey the basic aspects of wisdom, hopefully in a way more useful in our era.
This is a continuation of a discussion last week about the importance of each generation diving deeply into subjective experience via meditation practice to revitalize the liberating qualities of the Buddha’s teaching. Last week’s discussion involved the importance of clear awareness of emerging mind states in the cultivation of wisdom. This week’s exploration focused on how important benevolent intention is in evaluating what clear awareness reveals. Intention, cetana in Pali, organizes the different mental functions, preparatory to action. When clear awareness isn’t in play, the likelihood of suffering significantly increases, because intention is allied with desire or ill-will and aversion.
This is the first of two dialogues about the Wisdom aggregate of the Noble Eightfold Path, continuing to explore the relevance of traditional Buddhist psychology to modern scientific and psychological insights. Tonight’s discussion emphasized Right Understanding as “clear awareness” of the three characteristics: impermanence, dissatisfaction, and non-self, as well as the realization of the reality of karma, that is, for every effect there’s a cause. Next week’s discussion will emphasize Right Intention as “benevolent intention”, focusing on how urgency is felt and managed to manifest Wisdom.