When I go to bed, in less than a minute all worldly thoughts are put aside – all events of the day and the ones to follow the next day, all my various physical ailments as well. Then I ask myself two questions:
!. Was there anything I did today, or have been doing, that I should not have done? (This ‘doing’ is about speech and thought as well. Most importantly about thought, because from thought, speech and actions follow)
2. Was there anything I did not do, or have not been doing, that I should have done?
Hardly anything comes up at first. But with persistence, minor faults or misgivings are seen. Then I see how those may lead me or others into worse situations – I mean internal situations, but those, if unchecked, may well lead to outer behaviour. The supreme value of Dhamma is seen when we are face to face with ourselves. ‘Theoretical knowledge is seen and presented as direct and true knowledge’ Dhamma then becomes one’s own true knowledge in the sense of It being the benchmark by which we set standards for ourselves. Nature pulling one way, Dhamma pointing to another.
One aspect I see of treading the Path is that of gradually rising above Nature. Our instincts are natural – greed, anger, sex – so there is nothing wrong or ‘sinful’ there, nothing that goes against the norm. It is all natural. But if we persist in this ‘normality’ we are also stuck there. And there is only suffering ahead, precisely because of indulging in and gratifying our ‘natural’ impulses. This is what Arahants achieve (and Anagamis to a lesser extent); they transcend Nature. Then instead of being slaves to Nature, Nature comes under their control, in cases even at their command. But a Buddha is needed to show the truth about this (future) suffering, because it is not easy at first to see that even apparently innocent, harmless pleasures lead to suffering in the long run.