Saturday, 19 October 2013

Buddha-Dhamma for Students - Buddhadasa

Genre: Spiritual
Tagline:Emptiness from Me & Mine

This book is an introduction to Buddha's teachings in question-and-answer format based on two lectures given to Western students in Thailand by the 20th century Thai monk Bhikku Buddhadasa. Below is a summary:

The Buddha-Dhamma or teachings of the Buddha concern the existence of suffering and the way to the end of suffering. Questions such as “who am I?” or “how was the universe created?” or “is there life after death” do not pertain to suffering and so are outside this core scope of Buddha’s teachings. 

More precisely, Buddha taught (1) the middle way (that lies neither in self-mortification nor in giving oneself up to pleasure), (2) to recognize and understand the causes and conditions of our experience, (3) to avoid evil, to do good and to purify the heart (to purify of all attachments, even good ones) and (4) the transitoriness of worldly things.

The basic lesson is thus not to grasp, not to cling, and to be mindful in every moment, that is single-minded: “when seeing, just see”, without like or dislike, attraction or aversion.

Books, scriptures and teachings are like a raft across a river, that is to say they have a purpose, and once that purpose is fulfilled, they have no value in themselves.

Study the suttantas, especially those on suññata: the emptiness of self, the emptiness of the world, the emptiness of mind. Emptiness is not material: it means that all five aggregates are impermanent, and nothing belongs to me or mine.

As Buddha advised in the Kalama Sutta, your faith is based not on tradition or belief in what you’ve been told, but on your own mind. If you hear a new teaching, see if it accords with the Suttas and Vinaya and your own experience, and accept it accordingly. Your heart-mind is your temple.

The eightfold path will arise naturally from not grasping and not clinging: right view, right understanding, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness & right concentration. Not clinging and not grasping will arise naturally from seeing the inherent emptiness of all things.

Nibbana is the perfection of emptiness, the epitome of coolness, to die before dying. It is the realization of no-self, not in death, but in this life.

Avoid the four woeful states of hell, beasts, ghosts & demons in this moment, and you will avoid them in death also.

There is good karma, bad karma, but also a third, most important yet often forgotten: the karma that ends all karma.

Is it difficult? Buddha’s truth is based on causality, so it depends. If we act according to right understanding, then it is not difficult.

Whatever you do in life, recognize (i) its qualities, (ii) its origins, (iii) its attractiveness, (iv) its hidden dangers & (v) how to benefit from it whilst avoiding its hidden dangers.

Buddha’s final teaching was that all conditioned things decay, so tread the path with care!

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