08 January 2012

For Shame

The Third Cardinal Discourse of the Buddha, the third delivered after his awakening, is the Fire Sermon, the Ādittapariyāya Sutta.  I have every reason to believe that, given its status as one of the very first three teachings of the Buddha, the Fire Sermon is considered almost übercanonical, a sine qua non of the essence of the Buddhadharma.

The Buddha tells me it's all on fire – eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind – burning with the fire of "lust, with the fire of hate, with the fire of delusion, […] burning with birth, aging and death, with sorrows, with lamentations, with pains, with griefs, with despairs."

The Buddha tells me that when I find estrangement in it all – eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind – then "…passion fades out. With the fading of passion, [I am] liberated. When liberated, there is knowledge that [I am] liberated. [I then] understand: 'Birth is exhausted, the holy life has been lived out, what can be done is done, of this there is no more beyond.'"

Here's the thing:

I get it, to a degree.  I've felt some of the fire, and I've found some estrangement.  But I have to say that most of the time, as far as commitment to practice and depth of insight goes, I'm not so very much different from the alcoholic who sees his problem, goes 10 minutes without a drink, and then congratulates himself on his sobriety by ordering another round.  The fire's still burning, and I'm still bringing in fuel.

Pretty pathetic, really.  Such a sorry state of affairs.

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