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CONCLUSION This monograph has argued that a study of the concept of craving is crucial to an understanding of Buddhism. A psychological picture has emerged which indicates why and how craving is the central obstacle that prevents the achievement of a state of mental integrity unsoiled by egoistic and grasping aims, and therefore free from pain. In many ways this picture appears to be straightforward . But, as has been demonstrated, behind outward simplicity there is an intricate path to salvation in which craving is firmly embedded. Once craving is examined from the perspective of salvation it is possible to recognize where the key emphases of the doctrine lie. For one, Buddhism emphasizes that craving is a persistent feature of all experience and, in turn, that it is rooted in a complex state within man, who must come to see that life is painfulness . In this way Buddhism is from the beginning importantly different from other religions. Here the problem is not taken to be a cosmic crisis nor a spiritual condition in the grip of external or daemonic forces. Nor is the pain and fault of the human condition attributed to a single part of man's nature, such as an enslaved will, confused intellect, or disoriented emotion. There is rather a permeating stain, profound and intricate, which eludes recognition. Buddhism seeks to confront and master this obstacle. A second emphasis that emerges is the intimacy between the reality of craving and what the Buddhist understands as mind. The Buddha teaches that mind is tangled in a web of conditioning factors, the most strategic of which is craving, and that men everywhere are born into this state. An acknowledgment and 108 Conclusion 109 definition of mind and the various factors which condition it are therefore essential for the way to salvation. The Buddha traces out the problem of craving through the various regions of the mind. In this way he shows how the mind in its conscious and unconscious operations is strategic to the arising and expression of craving. A third emphasis comes to focus as we realize that the mind is not merely the receptacle of craving but is also the means for liberation from craving. That the mind is the context in which this whole drama of life and salvation is worked out is central to the teachings of Buddhism. The mind is regarded as corruptible but capable of correction. The Buddha teaches that it is like a lotus, born in mud and slime, often submerged beneath the defiling (upalitta) waters of ignorance and craving, yet at the same time it is of capable of growing and rising above these waters, a symbol of purity and enlightenment (D.2.38). This is further reflected in the Buddha's doctrine of confidence (visarada), which recognizes the need for self-effort without reliance on any external agency or power. The positive nature of this teaching is apparent even in his first sermon (S.5.420) in which he lays down the path between asceticism and indulgence. Here he points to the psychological truth that coarse desires are only aggravated by a forced or unwilling effort to eradicate them. The Buddhist perspective on life is comprehensive and balanced, not a way by a mere denial or renunciation, but by inclusion and re-orientation. Even painfulness might be said to have some good in it, leading as it can to authentic religious experience (hiri-ottappa—shame or fear of sin). So too, craving is taken to be a factor that can be brought to balance itself. The evident need is not to repress the desires that possess the individual but to root out their origins, to understand their conditioned background, and finally to redirect this unwholesome craving to more purified 110 Craving and Salvation aims, until at the last craving of any kind is overcome (M.I.119). In doing so, the aware one comes to the understanding that we need no longer be tethered by the leash of craving (tanha gaddula) to a selfish and chaotic emotional life. This understanding is confirmed and strengthened through the discipline of meditation. At this point the path toward nirvana shifts from a conative to a noetic focus. Insight into the complex nature of craving is more readily achieved. It should be pointed out, however, that although even in meditation the mind is not looked upon as something mystical and otherworldly, it would be wrong to interpret the Buddhist path as only a system of...


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