Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Buddha's 12 Steps to Happiness and Freedom

Very happy for Gil Fronsdal's talk this morning at IMC, on 'liberative dependent origination'. In plain English, liberative dependent origination refers to the Buddha's 12 Steps to Liberation.

These are the 12 steps as I remember them from listening to Gil's talk:

1) Suffering
Being conscious of our suffering, and wishing to find a way out of our suffering.

2) Faith
Having faith in the Buddha's way, to get us out of our suffering.

3) Joy
Experiencing joy as a result of our experience of positive effect from taking first steps along Buddha's path.

4) Rapture
A more heightened state of joy.

5) Tranquillity
Reaching (relative) tranquillity of the mind, so that the task of mindful exploration can take place.

6) Happiness
Experiencing happiness, a state that is both deeper, and less excited than joy from step 3.

7) Concentration
Being able to focus our attention longer, and better.

8) Clarity
Being able to see things clearly, as they are.

9) Disenchantment
Becoming disenchanted with things that used to exert a pull on us.

10) Dispassion
No longer being attached to binding states.

11) Emancipation
Liberation from suffering.

12) Knowledge of the destruction of the cankers

Although presented as linear, I am not sure the 12 steps work quite that way. At least, from my humble perspective as a novice along the path. Yes, I did start with an acute consciousness of my personal suffering, and did make a leap of faith to trust in the Buddha's way. Yes, I did feel tremendous joy initially, when I started to see the light out of the dark forest. The next steps do not feel as clear cut to me. I have moments of tranquillity, and concentration, and clarity, and disenchantment, and dispassion. They are just not sustained. I am curious, what other people's experiences are?

The full talk will be available soon on the IMC's website here. (allow three to four weeks from time of talk)


  1. I would love to feel I have experience up to the clarity that comes from paradox balancing that creates a neutral contentment that might qualify as disenchantment, but I still care too much to reach for dispassion..appreciation is praise & I strive to be constant in prayer..still..

  2. Maybe knowing you are on the path is good enough? It certainly is for me . . . The knowing where one is on the path is secondary. I find great comfort and strength in knowing this path has been traveled by others before, who have kept a record of the various milestones along the way.

  3. still.. consciousness is best for me (also)until I appreciate 12 beaches of the me-ocean..and waves leave their foam as evidence of sounding a rhythm..I am clapping at your performance..

  4. thanks, Brad. love your your stream of consciousness flow