An important, if a bit strident article about the importance of understanding that the Buddhist path is a whole one, not intended to be chopped up and distributed along with other tidbits of spiritual practice. And, the importance of faith in the entire enterprise.
This passage below may be the crux of it all for it declares clearly, and accurately in my opinion, that awakening, the fundamental goal of Buddhism, is not a static experience the process of living an awakened life, seeing things as-they-are (yatham bhutam) which is ever-changing and therefore, without inherent identity (nothing to hold onto) and always available to change (and thus inherently “optimistic” about human nature):
In the Mahâtanhâsankhaya-sutta, the Buddha examined his students on their meditation experience:
Bhikkhus, do you see: “This has come to be?” … Do you see: “Its origination occurs with that as support?” … Do you see: “With the cessation of that support, what has come to be is subject to cessation?” (M 1.260)
Notice the focus of the Buddha’s questions. He is not just asking his students, “Do you see change?” He is asking, “Do you see the patterns of change? Do you see what supports what? Do you see what specific experience gives rise to what specific experience? And when that experience ceases, do you see what changes to make it cease?”
This perceived order in the flow of experience, the fact we can see that precisely this gives rise to precisely that, is specific conditionality. This is what makes our situation workable. The wisdom of the Buddha exposes the underlying structures of our experience, the underlying laws that govern change, and therefore shows us how we can develop our experience in a direction we want. This is what makes possible the path. The goal of practice, and the means of practice, is awakening (bodhi). What we awaken to is our experience, now. This experience, now, is the content of awakening. Note that awakening does not refer to any specific type of experience, be it painful or pleasurable, happy or sad, Eastern or Western. Awakening is simply the penetrating knowing of the structure of any experiences that are arising and ceasing, now.