Applying the Doctrine
[Lord Buddhas Teachings]
by B.P. Wadia
© 2002 Online Teosofiska Kompaniet
The aspiration to enlighten the heart becomes a compelling urge with some men. They seek to be, rather than only to think. Not sacrifices in mere deeds which are seen objectively as outside of the doer, but natural expressions of the man who is not aware that he is unselfish and sacrificing.
The desire to be good, helpful, and charitable is very common. It is the way of the world that these desires are forced into expression by conscious effort. They have not the sweet natural fragrance of the rose but the scent of the attar of roses manufactured by men.
Belief in a religious creed is very different from the inner way of life which, discarding creed, seeks the security of Naturalness. The integration of inner perceptions to outer life, the harmonious fusion of inner attitude with outer conduct, does not depend on study but on application. The study of true principles of the science of the soul, Psychology, gives theoretical knowledge. Applied Psychology is another matter.
Our religious, social, and other beliefs have to be tested by the painstakingly acquired knowledge yielded by study. To know himself, man has to apply that knowledge – discarding unenlightened beliefs and habits. Our views have to stand the test of quiet knowledge. Thus commences application in the art of becoming integrated. To live the doctrine, to be what we know, to be true to the perception of the educated mind, requires application. In the sphere of application, there should not be the poser, of whom Hamlet is the classical example. We must know and then determine what we aspire and plan to BE.
One of the greatest psychologists, a great master in the art of application and one who certainly knew himself, has said:
Irrigators canalize the waters; fletchers bend the arrows;
carpenters carve the wood; wise men fashion themselves.
The Dhammapada, Verse 80
The Enlightened One repeats the same verse but uses the word "good," i.e., bent on fulfilling noble resolves, in place of the word "wise." (Verse 145) To fashion ourselves to BE noble means to become noble by exercise, by application. There is a difference between the scholar and the Sage; it is rooted in application. A scholar knows, a Sage embodies Wisdom. Master Gautama has illustrated the difference in Verses 51-52:
Like a beautiful flower, full of color, but without scent, are
the fair but fruitless words of him who does not act accordingly.
Like a beautiful flower, full of color and full of scent, are the
pure and fruitful words of him who acts accordingly.
Words and acts are integrated in the Sage. The Light of the Soul radiates in and through his sensorium. Exercise, practice, and application make the Sage out of the scholar. Intellectual recognition becomes spiritual realization when the mind's knowledge passes through the fire of experience. Most of the few who seem determined to become truly good and wise lack perseverance, assiduity in devotion. The Master has said that, "a lax ascetic only scatters the dust of his passions more widely." (Verse 313) The persevering effort should not be spasmodic. Strenuous should be the watch, daily the warding off of evil. The Dhammapada says:
Let a man guard himself. Let him be like a well-guarded frontier
fort, with defenses within and without. Not a moment should
escape his vigilance. He who allows the moment to slip from the
right suffers grief, like unto the pain of hell. (Verse 315)
Another difficulty of the student who resolves to practice is his lack of correct philosophical knowledge. His studies are often materialistic and mechanistic. He pushes himself to the dangerous precipice of neurosis. A strange verse seems exaggerated at first sight. The Master Gautama says:
If a man has transgressed a single Rule, if he lies, scoffs at
another world, there is no evil he will not do. (Verse 176)
The breaking of a single law and the scoffing at the existence of another world (the invisible is implied) are put in the same class as falsehood. These three seem to be wombs of evil deeds. There are some cogent verses in the Ninth Canto, which is about Evil, Sin, and Vice (Papa).
The Dhammapada (Footfalls of the Law) proves a reliable Companion for the ardent practitioner. What inspiration is to be derive From this confessional verse by the Master!
This mind of mine went formerly wandering about as it liked, as
it listed, as it pleased; but I shall now control it perfectly as
a rider controls with his hook a rutting elephant. (Verse 326)
From "Thus Have I Heard", pages 41-43. Utgiven av Indian Institute of World Culture, 1959.
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