Nourishing the roots

Through this blog, I’ve been maintaining that the teachings of the Buddha that are the most useful to the most people are the ones about how to live among others, that is, guidelines for wholesome behavior. My thinking on this has only been strengthened by observation of myself and others. Without the foundation of wholesome actions, words and thoughts, our lives will be confusing and unhappy. AND attempts at meditation will be futile.

The faith aspect mentioned below could describe our desire to do the right thing.


Because the unwholesome tendencies and selfish clinging spring from seeds buried deep in the bottom-most strata of the mind, to eradicate these sources of affliction and nurture the growth of the liberating vision of reality the Buddha presents his teaching in the form of a gradual training. Buddhist discipline involves gradual practice and gradual attainment. It does not burst into completeness at a stroke, but like a tree or any other living organism, it unfolds organically, as a sequence of stages in which each stage rests upon its predecessor as its indispensable foundation and gives rise to its successor as its natural consequent. The principal stages of this gradual training are three: the training in sila or virtue, the training in samadhi or concentration, and the training in pañña or wisdom. If we follow through the comparison of the Buddhist discipline to a tree, faith (saddha) would be the seed, for it is faith that provides the initial impulse through which the training is taken up, and faith again that nourishes the training through every phase of its development. Virtue would be the roots, for it is virtue that gives grounding to our spiritual endeavors just as the roots give grounding to a tree. Concentration would be the trunk, the symbol of strength, non-vacillation, and stability. And wisdom would be the branches, which yield the flowers of enlightenment and the fruits of deliverance.

The vigour of the spiritual life, like the vigour of a tree, depends upon healthy roots. Just as a tree with weak and shallow roots cannot flourish but will grow up stunted, withered and barren, so a spiritual life devoid of strong roots will also have a stunted growth incapable of bearing fruit. To attempt to scale the higher stages of the path it is essential at the outset to nourish the proper roots of the path; otherwise the result will be frustration, disillusionment, and perhaps even danger. The roots of the path are the constituents of sila, the factors of moral virtue. These are the basis for meditation, the ground for all wisdom and higher achievement.
From http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/wheel259.html, Nourishing the Roots by Bhikkhu Bodhi

More next time…

1 Comment

Filed under General, Precepts

One response to “Nourishing the roots

  1. Experience has borne this out here, and continues to do so. – d

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