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Intellect Emotion and Will

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by Sangharakshita

... I have written quite a few books as well as giving quite a few lectures and talks and know that I have conducted, led, quite a few seminars and have expressed quite a few thoughts, quite a few opinions, quite a few conclusions on all sorts of subjects. Some of you will be aware that Subhuti has tried to bring together all my thoughts on leading topics of general Dharmic interest in a book and to share their interconnection, but one must not thereby think that I*ve stopped thinking, or that my thinking perhaps isn*t changing, much less still that I consider my thinking or my thought to be complete.

And this means that I don*t really think that the FWBO is complete. Thirty years ago the FWBO was a very small seed. That seed has sprouted, it has put forth many, many shoots, it*s sunk down very deep roots, but its growth is by no means complete. I myself have seen in the course of the last so many years developments which I did not altogether foresee. I didn*t have a sort of detailed blueprint of what the FWBO was going to turn Out to be like. There were just some leading ideas, just a general sense of direction, just a broad, general vision.

So yes, I*m still thinking, I*m still reflecting, still thinking about matters of deep concern to the FWBO in general and also considering the Dharma, trying to deepen my understanding and penetration of the Dharma itself So yes, there*s quite a bit of current thinking going on, and you won*t be surprised to learn that some of that current thinking at least is in connection with our Going For Refuge to the Three Jewels. Incidentally, someone did make the point recently, and I think it*s a point worth remembering, that some of us have got into the habit of speaking simply of Going For Refuge, or even My Going For Refuge, or Our Going For Refuge, without explicitly mentioning what it is that one goes for refuge to, which is of course the Three Jewels, to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. So I think that*s a point worth paying attention to.

We don*t just say, I*m a bit concerned about my going for refuge, or I*m not too sure about my going for refuge nowadays. Well, going for refuge to what? Make it more explicit, make it more concrete - it*ll then become plainer and clearer.

So a certain amount of my current thinking is in connection with Going For Refuge to the Three Jewels. So who is it that Goes For Refuge? Well, we Go For Refuge, especially if we*re Order Members. But take it a bit further than that. It*s the individual that Goes For Refuge.

There*s no collective Going For Refuge. The group as such does not Go For Refuge, at least the group as such does not Go For Refuge effectively or really. So it*s the individual who Goes For Refuge.

But then one might say the question arises, who is this individual that Goes For Refuge? What is this individual that Goes For Refuge like? I*m not concerned at this point with anything deeply metaphysical. I*m not going to raise the question of the anatma doctrine, or the question of relative and absolute truth, or anything of that sort. I*m speaking in quite ordinary and everyday terms. It*s the individual who Goes For Refuge, so what*s that individual like? What is that individual made up of*? Very broadly speaking there*s a nama, there*s a rupa, there*s a body, there*s a mind, connected we know not how, that*s a great mystery. But if we look at the mind, let us say, if we look at the individuality as such, look at the psyche if you like, we can distinguish three quite separate and distinct aspects. They*re not altogether different, they*re not really demarcated one from the other in any sort of hard and fast way, but we can distinguish them.

There*s an intellectual aspect, an emotional aspect, and a volitional aspect, the aspect of will.

Because we think, we feel, we emote and we will, we connate. So I want just to try to relate these three aspects to our Going For Refuge to the Three Jewels. It would seem that they don*t all come into play at once or come into play equally, and this is because we*re not really integrated beings. In many ways we*re quite divided beings.

So what happens? Let*s look briefly at the way in which we come into contact with the Three Jewels, especially to begin with say the Buddha. First of all we may say we come to know about the Buddha, this is what usually happens. We hear about the Buddha, we read about the Buddha. We come to know the historical facts. We know that he was born in the borderlands between the present-day Nepal and the present-day India. We know that he was born into a patrician, even a princely family, and we know how he went forth from the household life when he was, according to most traditions, twenty-nine years of age. We know how he sat beneath the Bodhi Tree and how he gained Enlightenment, and how he taught his Dharma subsequently and gathered disciples, so we know these historical facts. Here it*s our `intellect*, for want of a better term, that comes into play. Incidentally I wish that we didn*t have to use this term, intellect. It*s one of these terms that has been in - well, in recent centuries perhaps - very grossly devalued, but we don*t seem to have any other term to replace it. But I use it so to speak within inverted commas. We have this, as it were, `intellectual* knowledge about the Buddha, we know the historical facts.

But of course you can know the historical facts about the Buddha, about the Buddha*s life, without being a Buddhist. There may be non-Buddhists, scholars, academics, who know the historical facts about the Buddha*s life much better than you do. But there*s no feeling. That*s the difference. When you know simply about the Buddha as a historical personage, and you know simply the historical facts - or what we believe are the historical facts - about his career, it*s simply your intellect which is coming into play.

But if you become sufficiently acquainted with those historical facts, especially if you dwell upon certain incidents, certain episodes, in the life of the Buddha, then in fact you start developing a feeling for the Buddha. Perhaps you come across that incident where the Buddha is making his rounds of the monks* dwellings, and he sees an old monk, just lying there sick and neglected by the other monks. And the Buddha calls upon Ananda, his faithful attendant and disciple, to help him lift that sick monk onto a bed and to wash him and care for him. And then the Buddha of course calls together the other monks, and asks them why they are not caring for their sick monk. And he says, "Monks, you have no father and no mother, we should care for one another." So when one reads incidents like that, or when one reads for instance the story about the Buddha and Kisagotami, the woman who had lost her only child, and when one comes to know how tactfully and compassionately, but at the same time how profoundly and radically the Buddha dealt with her case, how he consoled her, consoled her in the highest possible way, then you*re not just learning facts about the Buddha*s life story, you begin to have some feeling for the Buddha, some feeling for the Buddha*s compassion, some feeling for the Buddha*s wisdom, some feeling for the Buddha*s energy, his unremitting energy, as he preached the Dharma for so many years.

So then, as you start feeling in this way your emotions come into play. The Buddha is no longer just an object of your knowledge. He*s also an object of your emotion. It*s not just your intellect that is brought into play, but your feelings and your emotions and you can go on to contemplate the attributes of the Buddha quite systematically, to build up your feeling for him.

You can also do the sevenfold puja, that has much the same effect. Your devotional feelings are increased and enhanced, and perhaps you can do, if you*re an Order Member, a visualisation, etc. a visualisation say of Shakyamuni.

I say exercise, but again single inverted commas, because when you visuualise say Shakyamuni or any other Buddha or Bodhisattva, it isn*t just an exercise in a neutral sense, in an emotionally neutral sense. There must be some feeling for the person, the spiritual person, the transcendental person from your endeavouring to visualise.

So in this way as you develop more and more feeling for the Buddha you become as it were drawn towards the Buddha. You want to become more like the Buddha, and in this way will comes into play. So how is it that will comes into play? Well will comes into play because it isn*t an easy thing to become like the Buddha as you wish. You have to make an effort. So in this way intellect, emotion and will, each in turn, one by one, come into play and it*s only when all come into play, when we know about the Buddha, when we feel for the Buddha and we have the will to become like the Buddha, that we are able effectively to Go For Refuge.

Now, just a few words about `will* and willing. I suspect that the will has had rather a bad press in the FWBO. Well, I think in some quarters intellect has had rather a bad press, or at least one person is nodding vigorously. Emotions don*t seem to have had a bad press. People think it*s a very good thing to be into your feelings and all that sort of thing, one*s got to be very `vulnerable* these days of course! And sensitive! Especially if you*re a man of course! So yes, intellect*s had something of a bad press, emotions haven*t, but will I think has had the worst press of all, within the FWBO. And the reason I think is that will and willing are very often confused with willfulness. And willfulness of course is just one of the things that a good Order Member or mitra or friend even must not be. You mustn*t be willful. And very often if someone isn*t getting on perhaps very well with their meditation, or they*re having difficulties in personal relationships, well very often they*re ...

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