INTRODUCTION FOR PATHS
Hi, in this post we will be discussing the fourth part of a spiritual, philosophical or religious path (life philosophy). The fourth part of a path is its internal practice. A path’s internal practice is how one develops and uses the tools that help one make progress on one’s path. It’s the tools that help one attain/ learn a higher level of awareness or gain higher levels of spirituality or holiness or free will or divine wisdom etc………
Before I continue looking at the internal practice let’s examine how one learns when it comes to life philosophies. Normally a person can choose between two different ways of learning new 3d knowledge. You can pick up a book or attend lectures and read / study the new knowledge. The second way is to go out and get your hands dirty and try to learn by doing, sought of the difference between a vocational school and the more traditional lecture/ text book based schools.
When it comes to learning a philosophy or religion the process is somewhat different. Let’s face it if you could become enlightened or saintly or attain total free will just by book learning there would be a lot more saints and enlightened people in the world, unfortunately it’s more complicated than that.
Buddha used an analogy about a fruit tree to describe the process; I will use a somewhat rephrased version;
Before one can gain sustenance from the fruit of the tree of knowledge, someone has to first plant the seed that will become the fruit tree. Then someone has to cultivate and tend the tree until it can bear fruit. Even at that point you don’t gain any knowledge or sustenance from fruit while it’s still hanging on the tree. One has to pick the fruit from the tree and even at this point the picked fruit doesn’t provide one with any sustenance, one has to finally also eat the fruit to gain its sustenance/ knowledge.
If we reexamine the path components, forming a clear metaphysical belief is like planting the seed, practicing your moral code is like the tending and cultivating the tree, practicing your code of conduct is like picking the fruit and your internal practice is like eating the fruit. All the steps are necessary for one to gain the new knowledge.
The above is a nice analogy, but how does one in the real world pick and eat the fruit. Buddha would say that this last part of learning a life philosophy or divine concept requires two steps, one not only needs to actually experience the process/concept, but they have to have the experience at a direct conscious level of awareness.
A path’s code of conduct’s purpose is to provide one with the opportunity to have the right learning experiences and it’s the path’s internal practice that provides one with the tools so that one can have a direct conscious level of awareness of the experience and therefore gain the knowledge of the process governing that experience.
What do I mean about having an experience at a direct conscious level of awareness? First let me give you examples of experiences not at the conscious level of awareness. When you go to a magic show you have many experiences but they’re not necessarily at a direct conscious level of awareness. If you are seeing through each illusion or learning how the trick is being done, then that would be like having the experience at the direct conscious level of awareness. If you are not seeing through the illusion you won’t be learning how the trick is being done, that would be having a conscious experience at an indirect level of awareness.
The above illustrates two interesting points; first is, you cannot have a true learning experience or an experience at the direct conscious level of awareness without first piercing the illusion or delusion surrounding the experience (see the handout on bi-facation and tri-facation concerning the need of having an observer at the direct conscious level of awareness). The other point is that the magic show is actually much more 3d enjoyable when you don’t put in the effort to pierce the illusion or delusion.
It takes work and effort to pierce the illusion and delusion, the process of learning isn’t as much 3d fun. This is where internal practice comes in, as it will provide the tools to help you raise the awareness of your experiences from the indirect to the direct conscious with less work. But like any tools, it still requires an effort to develop and learn how to use them and an intention to make the effort to actually use them.
The first part of the internal practice component of a path is applying the right effort to learn/develop the tools and the right intention to use the tools.
The second part of the internal practice is the actual tools. The tools of internal practice one needs to develop are the noble attributes. The tools one uses to help develop the noble attributes are usually path specific. for example; on the Pre-Sectarian Buddhist path the two main tools are Insight Meditation and Jhana Meditation (practiced as Tandem Meditation). On a Pre-Sectarian Christian Path the two main tools are prayer and participation in the Sacraments. For a Hindu the two main tools are Jhana Meditation and Prayer/Ritual. For Druids the two main tools are Insight Meditation and development through work of “Strength” and “Control”. On a Mystic Path the two main tools are balanced Compassion and Empathy.
Due to the path specific nature of internal practice, I will more fully cover this component of a path in the individual path handouts.
Remember one cannot learn or teach through the written word, so these posts should not be looked upon as a way of teaching one a path. The most they can do is serve as an introduction or plant the seed to encourage one to seek out a teacher or a guide to help them develop or clarify their life philosophy.
There are two more components to a life philosophy we have not covered, since they are not technically part of the structure. They are usually best left for in person guidance, but I will mention them. The first concerns one’s level of practice (“vehicle”) and the other is the clear formation of one’s path goals (short term, long term, life goal, final end goal…). These two facets also tend to be path specific and will be further described in the individual path handouts.
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