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ESA – ACES Questions
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ĀYUKUSALA PAÑHĀ – the ACES questionnaire
The Buddha’s followers assembled in the Āyukusala Central European Sangha (ACES), hold the Dhamma to be skillful (kusala) living (āyu). The Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path provides for character cultivation and handling everyday situations (sīla–sikkhā), meditation training (samādhi–sikkhā) and developing wisdom (paññā–sikkhā). This applies to both the lay and monastic orders (sangha). The ACES are following the original Buddha–Dhamma recorded in the Pāli Canon and kept alive in the unbroken Theravāda tradition; however, the ACES are not compliant to any particular sect (nikāya) of the various contemporary national Buddhist institutions. Both the theoretical (pariyatti) and the practical (paþipatti) aspects of the Dhamma — as understood in the Āyukusala — are most concisely formulated in the answers to the following five questions:
Mindfulness (sati) takes only really concrete phenomena (sabhāva–dhammā) as its nutriment (āhāra). It distinguishes each phenomenon as falling within the sphere of one of the four foundations of mindfulness (satipaþþhāna). When it is applied in continuously noting and naming (vitakkana) the phenomena, insight (vipassanā) arises through noticing (sallakkhana) their characteristics.
Whenever awareness (citta–vīthi) strays into conceptual thinking, mindful noticing of the thought process ceases. Abstractions such as concepts are not the object of mindfulness. Whereas attention (manasikāra) is characterized by an active (karana) approach to the object, mindfulness (sati) is characterized by receptive (patiggahana) openness of mind. Mindfulness is thus neither some kind of “awareness” nor any special form of “attention”.
Mind–and–body (nāma–rūpa) are two–sided aspects of every experience in the advanced insight meditation (vipassanā). They have to be seen jointly and also simultaneously distinguished in their polarity — this is known as penetrating the unity of mind–and–body (nāma–rūpa–pariccheda–ñāna). Such insight knowledge arises only out of moment by moment mindful noticing.
No progress in insight meditation (vipassanā) is possible without experientially piercing the unity of mind–and–body (nāma–rūpa–pariccheda–ñāņa).
There are three goals of advanced meditation taught by Buddha, namely the divine dwelling (dibba–vihāra), the godly dwelling (brahma–vihāra), and the noble dwelling (ariya–vihāra). A meditator should know which he is experiencing.
The technical procedures of these three are distinctly different and should not be muddled up together.
There are four combinations of tranquility (samatha) and insight (vipassanā) taught by Buddha, namely pure insight (sukkha–vipassanā), after ecstasy (jhāna) practised insight (samatha–pubbangama–vipassanā), insight practiced on the verge of ecstasy (samatha–vipassanā–yuganaddhaĥ), insight achieved while pacifying an upheaval of phenomena (dhamma–uddhacca–viggahīta–vipassanā).
A competent meditation master teaches one of these combinations to each advanced meditator according to that individual’s predisposition. There is no one technique for all people.
There are five types of mastery (pañca–vasiyo), produced
by the ten skills of meditation (jhāna–kusala) taught by Buddha..
They consist in the choice and preparation of the meditation (āvajjana–vasī),
the methodical start of meditation (samāpajjana–vasī), the
abiding by the decision for time and object of meditation (adhiþþhāna–vasī),
the methodical ending of meditation (vuþþhāna–vasī), the reviewing
of the meditation process (paccavekkhanā–vasī).
These five steps are the same for all advanced meditation procedures.
Āyukusala Central European Sangha – ACES
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