Monday, June 25, 2018

How to Become a Buddha in 5 Weeks - Giulio Cesare Giacobbe

It's the "simple way to self-realization" says Cesare, psychotherapist, and Professor of Oriental Psychology at the University of Genoa. Cesare lost his twenty-seven-year-old son Yuri and is immensely qualified to write this book, having dealt with his suffering. The book is short, concise and impactful in a practical way. The techniques will surely allow the Buddha in us to flower.

Cesare explains how we can all become Buddhas. Every human being has the nature of the Buddha. The sole purpose of this book is liberation from suffering. Suffering comes from a false vision of reality - from our attachment to a false vision of reality.  Reality is knowing that everything is impermanent. Suffering is attachment to the impermanent.

To see reality as it is, we need practice. The practice consists of five powers which we possess but do not use - Control of the mind, Being in reality, Awareness of change, Non-attachment and Universal love.

A Buddha is someone who has attained serenity and maintains it in every situation. Serenity is a mental state - and your mental states depend on you.  Our serenity does not depend on situations - but our reactions to them. Our reactions are conditioned by our past experience. Which implies that our future can be conditioned by the present.

Buddha is non-conditioned.

"Being a Budha means remaining serene in every circumstance and loving other people.'

How to attain that state of serenity is explained in Buddha's teachings of the 4 Noble Truths and the Noble 8 Fold Path.

Buddha's 4 Noble Truths are
  • Existence of suffering
  • Cause of suffering (attachment arising from our ignorance of reality that the world is impermanent)
  • Elimination of suffering (elimination of ignorance)
  • The way that leads to the elimination of suffering (the 8 fold path which includes - Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration)
Explaining why it is increasingly difficult to see reality as it is, Cesare says that as man evolved, the Ego identified more with mental symbols that are social and cultural rather than natural. This is nothing but neurosis he says. The state of the Buddha is simply the natural state of non-neurosis.

Ignorance of reality is suffering. Reality is constant change and impermanence. Since everything is impermanent, one cannot get attached to anything. Non-attachment leads to liberation from Suffering.  

The Buddha's enlightenment is simply Right Understanding or Knowledge. 
Right knowledge consists of awareness that things and people change constantly. 
Right thought consists of elimination of negative thoughts. 
Right effort is the will to implement Right Concentration i.e. the observation fo our thoughts. 
Right Mindfulness consists of the presence in reality. 
Right concentration consists of detached observation of the mind. It is the noblest element of the Noble eightfold path. It needs determination.

To become the Buddha one needs to work on
  • Control of the mind
  • Presence in reality
  • Awareness of change
  • Non-attachment
  • Universal love

Control of the Mind
Control of the mind requires effort of the will. Control of mind consists of control of thought. The mind is an organ of the body. It can be trained, manipulated.

To control the mind, observe it. Observe sensations, emotions and thoughts. Thoughts are the cause of emotions and therefore the cause of suffering.

Thought that produces suffering is not voluntary. Involuntary thoughts (mostly negative) are automatically produced by memory (our unconscious) - a manifestation of the tension deriving from the traumas recorded in our memory. These thoughts reproduce making it a downward loop.

The normal practice to control the mind is detached observation of thought. To observe your thoughts - 1) try to stop your thoughts (and thereby look into your mind), 2) observe your mind and your thoughts using your senses - sight, sound, words

When we detach, we take away the emotional charge, break the chain of self-reinforcement and consequently its force of reproduction. The tensional thoughts are of memory and from the unconscious, but the conscious mind believes it created them, thereby identifying with it. When we detach by turning our attention from outside objects to our own thoughts we become the observer.  Our centre of identification, Ego, shifts from thought to the observer. It is through consciousness that we implement the observation of our thought.

The observer is not the thought.

The psychological law of disidentification gives us a clue- "We are dominated by everything we identify with and we dominate everything with which we disidentify."

Disidentify with all you want less of and identify with all you want more of.

Right Thought consists of elimination of negative thoughts and construction of positive thoughts. We need to replace involuntary negative thoughts with voluntary positive thoughts.

Detached awareness of thoughts, together with the conscious observation of breathing, reinforces concentration. Buddha lives in mental emptiness. By concentrating on breathing we can achieve mental emptiness.

The first week - control the mind.

Presence in Reality
Reality is nothing but the environment that surrounds us, that we can perceive with our senses. My reality is where I am now - the chair, table, computer. All else is not my reality. Delhi is not, my friend in New York is not - they are only in our mind, not reality. There is the world of the mind and the world of reality. be aware of the distinction between these two. Only the objects that belong to the world of reality are real, not those that belong to the memory.

'Suffering is not an object found in reality.' It's a mental state.

In the second week, remain in reality.

Awareness of Change 
Everything is in a state of constant transformation. And enlightenment consists of the constant awareness that reality is always changing.

A question - Why do we not see that life is dynamic and instead hold on to isolated images of life?

As the child personality, we hold on to an illusion of certainty in an ever-changing world, to memories from the past. Buddha enlightenment means growing psychologically from the child personality to the adult personality. To be fine with the constant change.

Practice remembering as often as you can, the awareness of constant change inside and outside.

Since reality is constantly changing - there is nothing fixed to which we can become attached.

Non-attachment is the most difficult step to take in this path. Non-attachment represents a permanent transition from the child personality to the adult personality. It abandons the need for protection,  for points of reference and for certainty. As an adult you do not need points of reference - you can do without anyone or anything. Which is why an adult personality can go ahead and become a parent - capable of helping others and to overcome personal selfishness. It is important to go through the child-adult-parent evolution before achieving Buddhaness.

In non-attachment, you demand nothing more of other people, expect nothing more of other people.

A Buddha has no expectation -  he accepts and enjoys what is there.

Expectations are the principal cause of suffering. Non-attachment is crucial. Non-attachment is non-demand for possession. Attachment is not attachment to the other person but to yourself. It is attachment to the ego. The result of non-attachment is love whereas the result of attachment is selfishness.

Be aware of your attachments - emotional and material. One can free oneself of emotional possessions by considering their precariousness.

Awareness of the precariousness of everything makes it easy to develop non-attachment.
Each thing seen in its precariousness and in its uniqueness is wonderful simply by existing. Same with people. If you have freed yourself of attachments, you will be able to appreciate and love that person. Enjoy him when he is there without demanding that he be there when he isn't. And without demanding that he be different from how he is. 

Attachment is a desire for what is not there. Non-attachment is not demanding what is not there but appreciating and enjoying what is there.

The demand for the presence of someone does not mean to love them. It means to want to be loved by him or her. Behind this false love there is, in fact, a need and therefore a demand. But need is not pleasure, it is suffering.

The philosophy of the Budha is pleasure, not suffering.

In the fourth week - free yourself of attachments.

Universal Love
Only through Univeral Love can life be filled with peace and joy. Universal love is the essence of the state of buddha-ness. Universal Love means being in contact with the whole universe, being the whole universe. Universal love has no limit, no fear, no negative conditions.
The way to develop Universal Love is through compassion.
Understanding and love are the same. Understanding means knowledge of the past, life, the suffering of the other person. That is why one feels compassion for friends, spouses. Feeling compassion means becoming the other person.

Compassion - towards yourself begins the journey to feeling compassion for the others. If you are capable of compassion, acceptance, forgiveness and respect for the child, the youth, the man or woman that you have been, that you are, you are capable of love for yourself, Learning to love yourself is the first step to love others.

Love really is seeing ourselves in others.

Budha state is the peak of human being's psychological evolution
Your serenity has to be placed above any other thing. If you have serenity inside, it helps others. It is an act of love.

Suffering as three immediate causes - expectations, fear and guilt.

It is not the fault of other person's if one's expectations meet with disappointment. We simply must stop having expectations.

Fears are always fears of something that is not there. Imagined fears

Suffering leads to Buddha. First take away your suffering. Then help others. If they ask. If someone asks for help, guide.

In the fifth week - make contact with the universe and develop love for all beings.

Wonderful, wonderful book. I had picked it up once and had not finished it, but this time I did and am happy I did. Very practical. The words of a practitioner.

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