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The Ten Fetters of Buddhism

the Wanderling


The first five Fetters (orambhagiya-samyojana) of the Ten Fetters play an important role in the final outcome of one of the best stories in Buddhism, the meeting of Upaka the Ascetic and the Buddha on the road to Benares. I call it the best based on two points, both systematically overlooked or ignored in Zen and Buddhism overall, and, when and if not overlooked, underemphasized.

Over and over you hear the Buddha never said nor claimed to be Enlightened, so much so practically, that those that say it have said it so many times that they now claim among themselves by citing each other that is must be so. However, the Majjhima Nikaya MN-26 claims quite clearly otherwise. The second part "best" refers to the first but has more to do with the Buddha's Enlightenment as viewed by an outsider rather than his own awareness to it. Upaka meets the Buddha walking on the road to Benares. The Buddha tells him he (the Buddha) "is an all Enlightened one beholden to no teacher." Upaka SEES NOTHING in the Buddha that would indicated the Buddha's statement as carrying weight and, apparently unimpressed, replies, "It must be so, friend," and wanders off.

The point missed by so many adherents and followers of Enlightenment, Buddhism, and Zen is: Upaka was in the presence of the Buddha himself and still NOT able to recognize or discern in the Buddha the Enlightenment transformation claimed to have occurred under the Bodhi Tree called Annuttara Samyak Sambodhi, the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment. What is implied in the Sutra, but overlooked by those either seeking Enlightenment or proof of Enlightenment is, that IF the claimed Enlightenment of the Buddha by the Buddha in the first point above, is taken as the truth, that is, that the Buddha did indeed and in fact attain Enlightenment as claimed by the Sutras specifically and Buddhism generally, then Enlightenment, regardless even of the highest depth of attainment, can NOT necessarily be determined, recognized, or known to be such in ALL cases by ALL people.

Simply put, in that Upaka was unable to recognize Enlightenment even in the Buddha, then it follows that Enlightenment is not always recognizable in every case by every person. That is, Enlightenment is not a universally accepted , known, recognizable phenomenon such as say being trapped in an area with insufficient air.

The question arises then, does the knowing or not knowing of Enlightenment enhance or inhibit Attainment? Three high profile examples of not knowing Enlightenment beforehand, but reaching Attainment notwithstanding and without benefit of teachers, would be the Buddha, the Sixth Patriarch of Chinese Zen, Hui-neng, and the self-Enlightened holy sage of Arunachala, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Typically, after it becomes widespread acceptable common knowledge that a person "is" an Awakened being, then there is a perception of expectation that precedes that person by those that know. Whether that "Enlightenment" is spoon-fed concocted propaganda or not is another thing, but, say in Ramana's case, whose known Attainment preceded him (at least in India), both Paul Brunton and british playwright and author William Somerset Maugham perceived enough of something about something when in the presence of the Maharshi that they both spent a great deal of time writing about it. Maugham even fainted in his presence the first time he saw him. So too, perhaps because of his experience with Sri Ramana, when Maugham came within the presence of MY Mentor [1] he sensed a similar "something." For Maugham in Ramana's case it may have been because of an earlier expectation, but in my Mentor's there was no previous expectation. When Hui-neng came before the Fifth Patriarch the Patriarch sensed right away Hui-neng's Attainment. Of course, the Fifth Patriarch knew of Enlightenment and he himself was Enlightened. In my case when I met my mentor for the first time, I sensed something, but if that "something" was Enlightenment per se' or some sort of projected outflow from a "carriage vessel of Attainment" is open to more Monday morning quarterbacking now than a specific answer. I will say others did not seem to preceive it, at least as I seemed to. In a total opposite sort of way, the same sort of preception cannot be said to have transpired in my meeting with Guy Hague, the man many people consider the real life role model for Larry Darrell, the seeker along the path chronicled in W. Somerset Maugham's book The Razor's Edge. However, even though as a young boy I had met Franklin Merrell-Wolff and experienced what would be called nothing less than a Kensho experience under his auspices, it must be said my level of understanding in those days still remained practically nil. It was much more refined by the time I ended up in a monastery high up along the side of some steep Chinese mountain somewhere on the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, and of which afterwards, being sent by my mentor to study-practice under the American Zen master Alfred Pulyan --- although looking back, I am sure the results regarding Hague would have remained the same.


How does any of the above tie in with the Ten Fetters and those ten standing in the way of Enlightenment? It has to do in example with Upaka and thus yourself and possibly any quest thereof. If you follow what happened to Upaka after his meeting the Buddha [2] you will find some years later after marriage and a child he returns to become a follower of the Buddha, reaching the stage of Anagami, a Once-returner, having done so by overcoming the first five Fetters. This by a man that initially was unable to perceive Enlightenment even in the Buddha.

In Buddhist lore, prior to his Enlightenment, while sitting under the Bodhi Tree, Siddhārtha Gautama was confronted by Mara, the Evil One, who sent ten temptors in an effort to stop him from reaching Enlightenment. As it has come down to us the temptors have been presented as manifested personifications, angels, or spiritual entities and given names as any person might. However, over time the names of each so named have come to represent the temptations to be overcome for any who may so choose to follow the Buddhist path to Enlightenment. Originally The Ten Chief Sins in their personifications, they are, or least their names and the temptations so endowed, are now represented in The Ten Fetters. The following is an exploration of The Ten Fetters claimed by the Buddha specifically and Buddhism generally as standing in the way of Enlightenment:

1. Sakkaya-ditthi is translated as "personality belief." This is the belief that we are solid beings, which leads to the illusion of a separate self, egoism, or individuality. This is a major obstacle to spiritual progress. Not only are we attached to the idea of self, we even glorify it. Conceit, arrogance, pride, self-abasement. Attachment to idea of "I" is fundamental to all problems; we defend the idea of I, we seek to cherish I, make a fuss of it. It is difficult to be entirely free from idea of self (Anatta), but at least do not take the five aggregates as self.

2. Vicikiccha means "skeptical doubt." In particular, doubt about (a) the Buddha, (b) the Dhamma, (c) the Sangha, (d) the disciplinary rules, (e) the past (for example, "What have I been in the past?"), (f) the future (for example, "What shall I be in the future?"), (g) both the past and the future (for example, "From what state to what state shall I change in the future?", "Who am I?", "What am I?", "How am I?", etc.), (h) the doctrine of dependent origination. The Buddha said that this kind of doubt is like being lost in a desert without a map. Vicikiccha is typically listed as the fifth of The Five Hindrances

3. Silabbata Paramasa means "adherence to wrongful rites, rituals and ceremonies" the mistaken belief that purification can be achieved simply by their performance. Examples are the extreme ascetic practices condemned by the Buddha. Also at that time, the Brahmins had developed very complicated rituals which only they could carry out and which meant that the rest of the population had to ask the Brahmins for perform all the religious ceremonies on their behalf. "Oneself is one's own master. Who else can be the master?" (Dhp. v. 160).

The Buddha said that neither the repetition of holy scriptures, nor self-torture, nor sleeping on the ground, nor the repetition of prayers, penances, hymns, charms, mantras, incantations and invocations can bring us the real happiness of Nirvana.[3] Instead the Buddha emphasized the importance of making individual effort in order to achieve our spiritual goals. He likened it to a man wanting to cross a river; sitting down and praying will not suffice, but he must make the effort to build a raft or a bridge.

The Buddha was talking to one of his prominent lay-disciples, called Anathapindika and said, "There are, O householder, five desirable, pleasant and agreeable things which are rare in the world. What are those five? They are long life, beauty, happiness, fame and rebirth in the heavens. But of these five things, O householder, I do not teach that they are to be obtained by prayer or by vows. If one could obtain them by prayer or vows, who would not do it?

"For a noble disciple who wishes to have long life, it is not befitting that he should pray for long life or take delight in so doing. He should rather follow a path of life that is conducive to longevity." (Anguttara Nikaya V, 43) He goes on to recommend the same course of action in respect of the other four desirable things.

4. Kama-raga, also kamacchandra, means "sensual desire." This is one of the roots of Tanha which is at the heart of all our problems with Dukkha. After we experience Dukkha we latch onto something. But what we latch on to has nothing to do with the Dukkha. What comes up is called in Sanskrit Samudaya. Desire, as Tanha, is a "Daughter of Mara," one of the first three temptors unleashed by Mara, The Personification of Evil, to entice the future Buddha into abandoning his quest for Enlightenemnt. Also considered one of The Three Poisons and the first of The Five Hindrances

Equally as significant this same hindrance is Number One at the top of the list of the Patimokka, the 227 Rules to be observed by members of the Buddhist Order. Out of the 227 rules it is one of ONLY four, called the Parajikas, that if breached incurs explusion from the order for life. If you think Buddhism takes it lightly take some time to read Parajikas. Buddhism might not be your cup of tea.

5. Patigha, also vyapada, The literal meaning of this term is "to hit against," but it is often translated into English as "ill-will or hatred." This is the cause of conflict both on an individual basis, and between nations as well. As Arati, aversion, another of the "Three Daughters of Mara" initally unleashed by Mara. Hatred is one of The Three Poisons as well as the second of The Five Hindrances.

6. Rupa-raga is "attachment to the form realms." It is a fetter when it continues to bind one to the Samsaric world. When overcome it is similar to Patanjali's samprajnata samadhi. Samprajnata-samadhi incorporates the first four of the Eight Jhana States within its scope, which when overcome, often through entry level Access Concentration, can lead to the eradication of The Five Hindrances, a major step toward liberation. As lust, Raga is also considered one of "Three Daughters of Mara" originally unleashed.

7. Arupa-raga is "attachment to the formless realms." It remains a fetter impeding liberation if the attachment is not breached. When breached it is similar to Patanjali's asamprajnata samadhi. Asamprajnata-samadhi incorporates the last four Jhanas within its scope. Asamprajnata-samadhi is sometimes known in Vedanta circles as Nirvikalpa-samadhi. The Buddha surpassed this fetter under the Bodhi Tree on the night of his Enlightenment through Insight (Vipassana Meditation).

8. Mana literally this means "measuring" and is often translated as "conceit, arrogance, self-assertion or pride," but measuring is a better term because it means all forms of evaluation. Feeling oneself to be superior to others (the superiority complex) is indeed a form a conceit. But mana also includes measuring in the sense of judging oneself to be inferior to others (the inferiority complex) and also equal to others. Even in spiritual matters, e.g. how many do you observe precepts? how long do you sit for meditation? Certainly we are all different, but it is not helpful to engage in comparisons between oneself and others.

9. Uddhacca means "restlessness." It is the confused, distracted, restless state of mind, in which there is no tranquillity or peace. It has been defined as, "the excitement of mind which is disturbance, agitation of the heart, turmoil of mind." (Dhammasangani 429). It is the opposite of one-pointedness. Number four of The Five Hindrances.

10. Avijja is translated as "ignorance," but this is ignorance in a special sense. It does not mean ignorance as it is used in the everyday sense, but it means specifically ignorance of the Four Noble Truths and the delusion which prevents us from seeing the real nature of impermanence and Dukkha. Last of of The Three Poisons.

The first five Fetters are known as Lower Fetters (orambhagiya-samyojana) because they bind us to the sensuous world. The second five Fetters are known as Higher Fetters (uddhambhagiya-samyojana) because they bind us to the rupa and arupa worlds (see #6 and 7 above).

These Fetters can be eradicated in four stages, what we call The Four Stages of Sainthood. When a Fetter has been eradicated, this is permanent, it does not come back again. One who has eradicated the first three Fetters is a Sotapanna, Stream Enterer. He has had a glimpse of Nirvana, like someone walking in the foothills of a mountain has a glimpse of the top of the mountain through the clouds. He has entered the stream that leads to Nirvana. He has complete confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, and perfect moral conduct.

The next stage of sainthood is a Sakadagami, Once Returner, which is marked by the reduction of the next two Fetters. They are not yet eradicated, but are suppressed.

When these two Fetters are completely eradicated, then the third stage has been reached. This is a Anăgămi, Non Returner.

The last stage is the Arahat, and is marked by the eradication of the last five Fetters. This state is not restricted by age, sex or social status. It is open to lay people as well as ordained monks. The Arahant will continue to live for his body's natural span, but he has eradicated all craving which binds ordinary people to the process of rebirth. Remember:

The Arahat creates no new Karma; he has gone beyond both good and evil, but he must still live with the Karmic effects of his previous actions. [4]

But when the life in the body eventually passes away the Arahat has to die just like anyone else. One can summarize this state by saying that it is freedom of suffering, it is the destruction or Death of the Ego and the eradication of greed, hatred and delusion.

In the Ratana Sutta is says: "Their past is dead, the new no more arises, Mind to future becoming is unattached, The germ has died. They have no more desire for growth. Those wise (and steadfast ones) go out as died this lamp." (Sutta Nipata, 14)

To summarize: Although Nirvana may be defined as the end of craving, it is NOT a conditioned state, it is not the result of anything. The direct nature of the Buddha's teaching is focused solely on the cessation of dukkha. The eradication of the Ten Fetters leads through The Four Stages of Sainthood to the ultimate goal of all Buddhist practice, which is the realization of Nirvana and thus then Sunyata. The way which leads to this realization is called the Eightfold Noble Path.

The eradication of the Ten Fetters or the mind being ripe sets the stage for total transformation. All of it can be a long drawn out process or it can transpire in an instant --- or a combination of the two. Re: the Buddha at Vulture Peak holding up the flower and the Venerable Mahakashyapa's Attainment thereof via a "Transmission" of sort. Enlightenment occured for Mahakashyapa through a sudden flash of insight and not through a gradual process of reasoning.

Loosly stemming from that thesis, Zen master Huang Po (circa 770 - 850) taught what has come to be called Transmission of the Mind, that the nature of Mind cannot be transmitted by speech or by writing and is not a conceptual object which can be transmitted from person to person or from place to place --- but can only be transmitted by a sudden flash of intuitive insight if conceptual thinking is transcended.(see) It should be stated the transmission-event does not have to be triggered through the process of another person, only that the mind be ripe, a classical example being the bottom of the water pail breaking through with Chiyono, aka Mugai Nyodai. See Zen and the Transmission of Spiritual Power.

Fetters not withstanding, it should be brought to your attention again, many have Awakened to the Absolute out of nowhere with little or no formal religious background, and definitely without a personal guru --- so in the end none of it may really be necessary. Two examples, as mentioned above, being the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and the Sixth Patriarch of Zen, Hui Neng. Another example of such an Awakening basically out of nowhere --- with no more that just an HOUR within sitting range of Ramana's presence AND with none other than possibly the clean spiritual plate of a young innocent and the mind being ripe --- and for sure with NO previous religious training, meditation, or studies or knowledge of the scriptures, can be found in the following:



Not everybody is in full agreement with what has been presented above regarding the Ten Fetters as the below will well attest. The following commentary showed up on "," in their own words, an archival site on the life and world of Shunryu Suzuki and those who knew him. It seems someone suggested this page on the Ten Fetters was worth passing on to others. Some disagreed. One who felt what was presented was worthy wrote:

"A thanks and this link to the Wanderling's page on the ten fetters. The Wanderling is a totally trippy Buddhist site but his own take on things and not always orthodox. Well, that hit a nerve on the P end which might possibly have been DC's nefarious intention."

The above was then followed to by what "P" must have responded with after having a nerve hit, of which I present unedited below:

Hey Buddy,

The internet article on the fetters that you emailed me is an example of some one who has read much more than they have experienced or fully understand - or a good example of one who hasn't read enough! It is disturbing for me to read a truck-full of words that is incorrect, incomplete, and can only spread confusion. It is saddening so often to see that the desire to be a 'teacher' and expert in a subject in many cases precedes and outweighs the desire to learn a subject correctly and thoroughly... Go figure.

The (Pali) Buddha is constantly using the expression "the eradication of ignorance" (which only fully occurs at the Arahant level), and this is precisely what defines Enlightenment. When there is no more ignorance, then by any definition, there is Enlightenment. It is a state of - KNOWING - and not a state of mind... or practice. (For instance, you KNOW how to add and subtract, even when you are half-drunk or sleepy - you don't need to get up at 5:00 AM every day to practice this knowledge.) Furthermore, it is only after attaining one of the levels of 'Enlightenment' that (also by definition) the full significance of "Ignorance" becomes easily apparent! One defines the other...

Inestimatable confusion and damage has been caused by the - INVENTION - of a "Buddha" and "Sutras" five-hundred years after the Buddha's death; speaking in a language that he never spoke, lacking in the knowledge and understanding of his essential teaching, and consequentially teaching what was originally only a secondary and mundane teaching as the primary teaching and goal. This is easily explained by the fact that two-hundred years after the Buddha's death Pali was already an extinct language and only devoted scholars would have access to this teaching - but with all of the books and resources available to us today, this point should no longer be hidden or obscured! In the article that I read, it was clear to me that the guy (or gal) didn't really know and understand what the (Pali) Buddha was teaching, he didn't really understand what the fictitious (Sanskrit) Buddha was teaching, and obviously doesn't and cannot understand that they are completely different! If one isn't completely understanding of the important differences in these two teachings, you get contorted explanations and logic like: Food is an energy source. Gasoline is an energy source. You can drink gasoline, and put food in your car... This last statement is partially correct - but dangerously wrong!

Thus I have heard... The Jhanas were discovered and practiced thousands of years before the Buddha, but the Buddha (actually, at this time he is called "the Bodhisattva") after mastering this concentration system rejected even the highest levels of attainment in this practice as a realization of 'Enlightenment', something permanent, or in any way a done deal. (Though this WAS considered 'Enlightenment' for the Hindus who considered the absolute equanimity experienced in the third Immaterial Jhana of the Void as "Uniting with Brahma", and the Taoists who called it the "Tao", and the Chinese 'Buddhists' and their descendants who have numerous poetic expressions for this mind-state - Zen, Void, Mind, Sunyata (a Sanskrit word), emptiness, etc., etc.). Concentration functions to suppress thought and allows one to hold an object in mind - the stronger the concentration, the longer one can hold an object. In a state of absorption (Jhana) thought no longer arises, but stopping thought - okay, greed, hatred, and delusion won't arise - but this does not in any way lead to a conclusion that one's thinking and understanding have therefore become CORRECT after one comes out of Jhana and thought arises again! Sorry, but everything dumb about you has only been temporarily SUPRESSED! Concentration on the road to 'Enlightenment' functions like gasoline in a car; you can't really go anywhere without it - but the gas doesn't care where the car is going!. Hitler is a shining example of a high level of concentration, wrong understanding, and an ability to mesmerize massive crowds of trusting people... Go figure.

Buddha taught the Jhanas as "Right Concentration" in the Eight-fold path, and concentration (not Jhana) as "Purification of the mind" as the second level in the seven steps to Nibbana - but distinctly different and secondary to his teaching of Nibbana. As a parallel example, take a piano teacher that gives his students difficult and strenuous finger etudes to improve their ability in physically playing the piano - just because a guy can kung-fu his way up and down the piano - yeah, we're all impressed and it IS amazing, but in no way does this demonstrate or equate with a profound understanding of music. The source and process of progressing in musical understanding is completely different and will never be attained by a million finger exercises. Naturally, people who are unable to distinguish the difference are easily duped into thinking that someone who is fast and accurate plays the piano very well. Likewise, when a person has some mastery of Jhana, we can perceive that something IS different, unusual, and wonderful - it just isn't 'Enlightenment'! Thus we end up with the really fucked-up, sick, bastards like [a list of current evil Western Zen teachers], etc., etc., etc., and the unfortunate, misguided, losers that actually think that these guys are 'Enlightened'.


"P's" comments in his opening paragraph are accurate enough in the wider spectrum of things. However, if the intent by "P" is to imply that his comments are applicable to either me specifically or what has been offered by me --- or only merely venting generally --- further investigation of what has been presented and why it has been done so in the manner it has is still in order.

As for the information on the actual Ten Fetters themselves, if you read just under the title, they are PRESENTED by the Wanderling, and except for my personal comments so noted leading up to and following the Ten Fetters, NOT written by me. The original source, as all works presented by me, IS cited at the bottom of the page. In the case of the Ten Fetters herein, from the most reputable and highly regarded LONDON BUDDHIST VIHARA. Note also that within the LBV text so presented that they inturn cite traditionally and exceptionally well accepted Buddhist sources such as Dhp. v. 160, Sutta Nipata 14, and Dhammasangani 429. This is not to reduce MY responsibility in the matter as I have selected the London Buddhist Vihara works as being accurate and I have offered both lead in and follow ups to the Fetters, albeit with a number of footnotes and click through links citing other sources for the opinions so offered. As you can see from what "P" has written in the above he is in total disageement on what I have written and selected.

Unlike most people I have come in contact with, my personal boots-on-the-ground experiences along spiritual lines runs the gamut from such varied sources as having had darshan directly before the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi in his ashram in India with somewhat startling results, to, as mentioned previously, doing hard time in a Zen monastery high up along the side of some steep mountain somewhere on the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, of which not all was texts or reading, as the following so attests:

" While at the monastery, I studied under the direct bold, unbending hand of a non-English speaking Chinese master of Zen and Enlightenment. The monastery itself was a cold, stark environment high in the mountains above the tree line, far removed from the western world and civilization, operating beyond the bounds of time, whose lineage, rituals, and beliefs harkened straight back unbroken and unfettered to the likes of Hui Neng, Bodhidharma and the Buddha. Doing so enabled me to be guided, via the master's skillful means, through to the full level of the unveiled truth, springing undhindered and unencumbered from it's original grounding source." (source)

Not everyone, primarily because of drawing conceptual construct inferences while being firmly implanted in the Samsaric side of any equation, are willing or able to innately grasp the dots. So said, not everything is presented on one page. The same reason there are Sutras after Sutras after Sutras overlapping and seemingly saying the same thing over and over in different words in a myrid of texts is why there are so many links on this and my other pages --- to ease the Dharma Gate and connect the dots for any who may be so interested. Continuing, "P" writes, speaking of me:

"In the article that I read, it was clear to me that the guy (or gal) didn't really know and understand what the (Pali) Buddha was teaching, he didn't really understand what the fictitious (Sanskrit) Buddha was teaching, and obviously doesn't and cannot understand that they are completely different!"

Anybody who has read or follows my works knows that I, in the Zen tradition a la Hui Neng and Te Shan who burnt all of his books and commentaries on Zen and the Buddha within hours of his Awakening, am a strong "outside the scriptures" sort of a fellow --- primarily referring to the scriptures, be they be either Pali or Sanskrit, most often for clarification or to refute or substantiate a given view. Because of a personal intermixture of Zen, Tibetan, Indian and other philosophies as cited above, I do have a tendency to blur the lines between the use of Pali and Sanskrit "words" and what I apply them to. Not much at compartmentalizing or pigeonholing, my intent is not to provide a history lesson, teach either language, or to box in a concept behind a static wall of any given word, but, drawing from my experience, to transfer the breath or life behind a given concept in either, both, or all to bridge or merge an understanding behind what is infered and its relation to what is.

In reality, when push comes to shove, it doesn't matter how one dissects, minces, or parses words --- or who said what in what language when, where or how, because in the end, Enlightenment is Enlightenment is Enlightenment. For ANY of it to work the mind has to be ripe. If one has to be a purist and seek out and use only Pali texts eliminating all other sources, so be it. However, my own views are more in line with how the Enlightened master Luangpor Teean presents it and suggest you consider it as a potential alternitive, or at least consider it an admixture to "P's" approach. The following comes from a personal interview with Teean and of which I am fully in agreement with:

"The Buddha's Teaching was recorded in the Tipitaka several hundred years after the Buddha passed away, and this text was then copied and recopied over a period of thousands of years. The teachings were probably recorded very well, but it is possible to doubt that the reader will now understand what those who recorded the teachings meant. For me to refer merely to the texts all the time would be like guaranteeing the truth of the claims of another, claims of which I am not certain. But the things that I tell you I am able to guarantee, because I speak from my own direct experience.

"The text is like a map: it is suitable for those who don't know the way to go, or have not yet arrived at the destination. For one that has arrived, the map no longer means anything.

"Another point about the Tipitaka is that it was written in the language used in a certain region of India, and was consequently appropriate for people from that area or for those who have learned to read that language. But Dharma taught by the Buddha is not something that can be monopolized by anybody: it transcends language, race, gender, and era. If we really know Dharma, we will teach it and express it in our own language, in our own words.

"The study of the Tipitaka is good in itself, but don't attach to and get lost in the specific words used. Mangoes, for example, are referred to by different words in different languages; don't fall into dispute over words and interpretations or become obsessed with the notion that only one word correctly names the fruit, while meanwhile neglecting the mango and letting it go rotten. Anyone that eats a mango must know the actual taste of the fruit, no matter what name it is given, or even if it is given no name at all."(source)

If you wish to express your own opinion on any of the above, which I would hope that you would either pro or con on either side, you will find at the source so cited below that they have a comment that says 'if you have any thoughts about it' --- that is the comments by "P" or, I would guess, even what is presented by the Wanderling --- they would like to hear about it from you.

PLEASE NOTE THE NEW email address herein for the contact person, David Chadwick, and written out here in "longhand" as dchad(at)cuke(dot)com with the word "at" to be replaced with the symbol "@" and the word "dot" to be replaced with the dot symbol (i.e., a period). They do it that way to foil searchbots and ensure they don't get spammed to death. I fully understand and respect that and why I present THEIR email address HERE the same as they do on their page. (source)

Yours in the Dharma,

the Wanderling



Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.











(1) UPAKA: An Addendum

(2) THE RAZOR'S EDGE: W. Somerset Maugham, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Guy Hague, and Zen

(3) FUNDAMENTALS OF BUDDHISM, Nyanatiloka Mahathera, Buddhist Publication Society (1949, 1956, 1968).

(4) TRUTH AND KARMA: Their Role in the Awakening Experience

(5) The Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng

(6) Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

With some editing for our purposes here by the Wanderling the
above provided by the Dharma and the graceful services of:

"The Buddha said that neither the repetition of holy scriptures, nor self-torture, nor sleeping on the ground, nor the repetition of prayers, penances, hymns, charms, mantras, incantations and invocations can bring us the real happiness of Nirvana."

The source and origin for the above quote this footnote is cited to can be found by clicking HERE. However, it should be noted not all religions, cultures and spiritual beliefs buy into, back, or practice such a concept as found in the quote, in whole or in part --- not even some that fall within the boundries of Buddhism itself. Although the start or end point along the edges of mainstream Buddhism may not be clearly delineated like an escarpment rising up out of a sea of non-believers, adherents that fall under the established spectrum of Buddhism run the gamut from the Parivrajaka to the fully entrenched ritual and robe laden, with monasteries, hierarchy, and little hats. To wit:

"One of the problems faced by organized religions, or cultures that hold deep traditional beliefs that fall into the realm of things spiritual, is that they have to give the people something. People raised in that something or new people transitioning into that something, expect from that something some sort of positive spiritual results. Usually those spiritual results are motivated by some sort of trappings. If they do get positive results, at least as perceived in the mind of the devotee, parishioner, or follower, then, for them it's working. If it doesn't work then the devotee is pointed to others that it did work for. If that doesn't solve the dilemma they are encouraged to work harder."

The above quote from:



"(T)he KMT searching the city came across me, finding me with bloodshot eyes, drooling at the mouth, unbathed, dirty, unshaven, no clothes, sitting in my own urine and defecation, rocking back and forth, and highly unusual for me, robotically repeating over-and-over a mantra from my childhood Om Mani Padme Hum and so mind-numb that I was worthless to their or anybody else's cause."

THE WANDERLING, Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery

When I was a young boy in the fourth or fifth grade or so two of my grade-school buddies and I used to pull a Radio Flyer through the alleys around the neighborhood collecting pop and beer bottles for the deposit. After we collected a wagon load we would turn them in various places around of which one was a bar. In the process of pounding on the back door I got to know the dishwasher there, an elderly (to me) Chinese man.

As a young boy without a lot of experience in the matter --- and never with my buddies --- I used to go by the bar and meditate in the alley with the old man even without the necessity of turning in soda or beer bottles for the deposit. Sitting in the shade on the back steps amongst the garbage cans and flies behind the bar one afternoon, while drinking hot tea out of tiny little cups with no handles in a near ritual-like tea ceremony he insisted on, the elderly Chinese man told me a story about the bombing of Japanese occupied Taiwan, China by the United States during World War II. He said from ancient times there was a "girl Buddha" whose followers believed that reciting the Jewel in the Lotus Mantra mantra Om Mani Padme Hum would, because of her compassion, deliver them from harm. He said even though he himself had not practiced or invoked the mantra, while seeking refuge in the midst of the attack he inadvertently ended up amongst a group of believers who were also running to find shelter from the explosions. Then, while within the group, most of whom were verbally repeating the mantra, overhead, pure white and almost cloud-like the "girl Buddha" appeared in the sky above them actually deflecting the trajectory of the bombs away from their exposed path until they reached safety and out of harms way.

The mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, came up because of a 1940s comic book superhero called The Green Lama that used the mantra much like Billy Batson used Shazam to become Captain Marvel --- to invoke superpowers --- and, in the Green Lama's case, like Captain Marvel, gaining super strength, invulnerability, the ability to fly, and even being impervious to bullets to the point of being bulletproof. The old dishwasher had six or eight copies of the Green Lama, all in like-new mint condition, of which, for whatever reason, he gave to me.

During those back alley sessions, if the Chinese man used any names relative to the "girl Buddha" I don't recall them. Anything I know about her other than his description of the protection she provided, I have garnered later in life. Basically the "girl Buddha," or more respectfully, female Buddha, is known as Kuan Yin (also know as Quan Shi Yin and Kwan Yin), a Chinese female incarnation of Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) the Bodhisattva of Compassion. A bodhisattva is an Enlightened being who has decided to "stay in the world" rather than becoming a fully Enlightened Buddha and living a compassionate life for the sake of all beings. With the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, Kuan Yin tirelessly attempts to deliver all beings from suffering.