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The Buddha's Vision

by Vishvapani

The last in a major new series of talks by Vishvapani to mark the launch of his new book: 'Gautama Buddha: The Life and Teachings of the Awakened One' (Quercus, 2011).

Vishvapani is a well known figure in the Triratna Buddhist Community and is a regular contributor on the BBC's 'Thought for the Day'.

When the Buddha finally sat down under the Bodhi tree and saw deeply into the nature of things, what had brought him to that point? And what happened next? In his final take on the Buddha's journey of the heart and mind, Vishvapani focuses in on the Buddha's experience before, during and after Enlightenment, bringing his nuanced, perceptive reading to the words the Buddha himself is said to have employed in order to best evoke his experiences as he struggled to give voice to them. A fitting conclusion to a wonderfully insightful series.

Includes an adroit discussion of the issues around imagination and historical evidence, and how we can usefully approach the Pali texts as literature.

Talk given in Bristol, February 2011.

This talk is part of the series Gautama Buddha.

Tracks (click play to listen)

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1. Reading from the book; setting the scene, the story of Bahiya; a description of the Buddha in an ancient Indian city; a teaching on the end of suffering; a great shift of consciousness (6:29) 
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2. The Buddha in a real place engaging with real people; tracing the development of the Buddha's Awakening - the story of his vision of Enlightenment (3:23) 
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3. The Attadanda Sutta ('Taking Arms'), the four sights evoked in the Buddha's own environment; the four noble truths: removing the thorn as an image for dukkha, its causes and its cessation (4:55) 
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4. A simple description of Going Forth from the Pali Canon; early meditation experiences in an Upanishadic context; Atman as soul, soul as God; self-mortification to release the spirit - Jainism and punishment of the flesh (3:56) 
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5. The cool shade of a rose apple tree - remembering an experience of the first dhyana; meditation that has nothing to do with theology and religion per se; open dimension of consciousness; views that liberate the mind and views born of insecurity (4:36) 
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6. Stumbling through the forest and discerning the path to Awakening; if you want to transform yourself you need to look into the dark places; facing fears, sitting still (3:31) 
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7. Insight into the nature of mind - two trends in thought; the way you use your mind shapes up the person you will become; the opening verses of The Dhammapada; the principle of conditionality (4:27) 
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8. Sitting below the Pipal Tree (Bodhi Tree) putting it all together; a craftsman working with gold; going deeply into states of meditative consciousness, free from unskillful mental states, free from views, a kind of awareness becoming Enlightened (3:37) 
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9. The Buddha absorbing and communicating experience; training yourself, a skill to be able to see Reality more clearly; the possibility of Liberation - the Buddha's evocation of his Enlightenment vision and decision to teach; lotuses budding and blooming (6:21) 
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10. Question 1 - What was the biggest effect on your own personal practice of doing the research and writing for the book? The truth of the Buddha's teaching on conditionality; the primacy of mind in shaping experience; the Buddha as a good friend (3:04) 
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11. Questions 2 and 3 - How has your interest in literature affected your take on the texts? Is there a way you see them as literary? The need to enter into the world of a text; connections; the Buddha as a poet; imagination constrained by evidence (7:57) 

Total running time: 52:16