TOWARDS SPIRITUAL GROWTH : FIRST STEPS
Buddhism insists on the correction of vision [ sammâ ditthi ], of world view and outlook, as the first step in its path to liberation. This path is referred to as the Noble Eightfold Way [ariyo atthangiko maggo]. With a distorted or incorrect vision [micchâ ditthi ] of the world and of man's place therein, as to who saves whom and how, no spiritual path of redemption can be recommended or undertaken. Saviour after saviour may come down to earth [avatâr = descent ] as manifestations of the divine, with promises of redress and redemption, but the correction, according to Buddhist thinking, must necessarily lie with man himself [suddhî asuddhî paccatam Dhp. v.165 = One's salvation lies in one's own hands]. No one brings about the purity of another [ Nâñño aññam visodhaye. Ibid.].
There are two basic factors for the acquisition of this correct vision. Since our concern is primarily with the Buddhist way, it must be had through Buddhist sources, i.e. sources with doctrinal authority. This is referred to as the initiation and intimation one gets externally from others [ parato ghoso M.N. I. 294]. It is also referred to as 'having access to the good doctrine' [âgato imam saddhammam M.N. I.46]. This has to be necessarily further nurtured through one's own analytical scrutiny [yoniso manasikâro M.N. I. 294].
To us, this correction of view is as vital and serious as the corrections to the Hubbell Space Telescope, undertaken by the U.S.A. a few years ago. The source of error must be detected. The whole world knows today what the correction to the telescope meant to every seeker of knowledge. It matters much less as to who generated the error, or how much compensation had to be paid on that account. True visibility had to be achieved, like seeing the fire-flies in Tokyo if the telescope were mounted in Washington D.C. Man has, likewise, to perceive all the limitations of the believed-to-be glamorous life that he is compelled to accept as a generous gift. It is he who has truly chosen to cling on to it, withour realizing that it is his own creation and that he is caugtht up in his own web. Thus it is the true comprehension of this reality or the real nature of life [yathâ-bhûtam pajânâti], of man's present and his future, which enables one to disentangle himself from the tangle of life.
010. Though one keeps reading and reciting a great deal of scriptures, but through one's own neglect never lives upto them, such a one will not be worthy of discipleship within the Order. He is like a cowherd who only keeps counting the heads while guarding cattle owned by others. But the one who lives in accordance with the Dharma, i.e. the teachings of the creed, although he utters only a little of it, gets rid of his greed, hatred and delusion. Wisely liberating his mind, he clings to nothing here or hereafter. Such a one is a worthy disciple [ Dhammapada vv. 19 & 20 ].