Posted by: Xhyra Graf | 21 October 2006

Wisdom found where?

Chapter VIII
The Development of Wisdom

At the cognitive level, which is its most basic sphere of operation, ignorance infiltrates our perceptions, thoughts, and views, so that we come to misconstrue our experience, overlaying it with multiple strata of delusions. The most important of these delusions are three: the delusions of seeing permanence in the impermanent, of seing satisfaction in the unsatisfactory, and of seeing a self in the selfless.[66] Thus we take ourselves and our world to be solid, stable, enduring entities, despite the ubiquitous reminders that everything is subject to change and destruction. We assume we have an innate right to pleasure, and direct our efforts to increasing and intensifying our enjoyment with an anticipatory fervor undaunted by repeated encounters with pain, disappointment, and frustration. And we perceive ourselves as self-contained egos, clinging to the various ideas and images we form of ourselves as the irrefragable truth of our identity.

Whereas ignorance obscures the true nature of things, wisdom removes the veils of distortion, enabling us to see phenomena in their fundamental mode of being with the vivacity of direct perception. The training in wisdom centers on the development of insight (vipassana-bhavana), a deep and comprehensive seeing into the nature of existence which fathoms the truth of our being in the only sphere where it is directly accessible to us, namely, in our own experience. Normally we are immersed in our experience, identified with it so completely that we do not comprehend it. We live it but fail to understand its nature. Due to this blindness experience comes to be misconstrued, worked upon by the delusions of permanence, pleasure, and self. Of these cognitive distortions, the most deeply grounded and resistant is the delusion of self, the idea that at the core of our being there exists a truly established “I” with which we are essentially identified. This notion of self, the Buddha teaches, is an error, a mere presupposition lacking a real referent. Yet, though a mere presupposition, the idea of self is not inconsequential. To the contrary, it entails consequences that can be calamitous. Because we make the view of self the lookout point from which we survey the world, our minds divide everything up into the dualities of “I” and “not I,” what is “mine” and what is “not mine.” Then, trapped in these dichotomies, we fall victim to the defilements they breed, the urges to grasp and destroy, and finally to the suffering that inevitably follows.

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