Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Map, No Map

Just when I need clarity about my practice, this particular teaching arrives. Of course, it's been around for a long time. But this morning when I opened my door to the net-o-sphere, there it was, a neat little package with a tag that read, "Open Me Now." So I did.

Inside was a new translation, by Glenn Wallis, of the Parayana Sutta. It has been translated variously as "The Discourse on The Goal and the Path Thereto," "on the Way to the Beyond," and "on the Way to the Far Shore." Wallis calls it the "Destination" sutra.


I will teach the destination and the path leading to the destination. Listen to what I say.

What is the destination? The eradication of infatuation, the eradication of hostility, and the eradication of delusion is what is called the destination.

And what is the path leading to the destination? Present-moment awareness directed toward the body. This awareness is what is called the path leading to the destination.

In this way, I have taught to you the destination and the path leading to the destination. That which should be done out of compassion by a caring teacher who desires the welfare of his students, I have done for you.

There are secluded places. Meditate, do not be negligent! Don't have regrets later! This is my instruction to you.

It doesn't get much simpler than that. "And what is the path leading to the destination? Present-moment awareness directed toward the body."

And as the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing goes on to teach, awareness of the body leads to, and is really the same as, awareness of consciousness and how it maps our way through reality.

Once we're aware of the map, we can, finally, look up from the map and experience simply what is there. That, I think, is the destination. More of a vantage point than a place on any near or far shore.

"There are secluded places." Go find one. Stop complaining, just go. The student is ready, the teacher has appeared, and the instruction has been given. Class dismissed -- go! Go practice.

I thank Barry Briggs and his blog, Ox Herding, for the gift of this teaching. As he notes, it appeared in Glenn Wallis's article in Buddhadharma: The Practioner's Quarterly, which I read, but I didn't take notice of it then.

1 comment:

  1. I found your blog/article moments ago via the Ox Herding Blog (found a few moments earlier). Not being familiar with the Parayana Sutta (nor Glenn Wallis), I was curious to read the content- snapshot "The Destination." Wow! Such a totally different perspective, a new opening of how the present moment is the only real destination. Gasho/Namaste


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