Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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DNS
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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by DNS » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:01 am

retrofuturist wrote: I don't think you can generalise, as it's about what works for the individual. Hence the Buddha had to teach the Dhamma in different ways to different people.
:goodpost:

See also: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=44&t=16744

I think there is a tendency for some of us to want to find the one most essential teaching or practice, to simplify, to get to the heart of the matter / practice and just work on that. Different personalities, temperaments have different techniques that work for them, according to the teachings (especially in the Abhidhamma and Commentaries).

If we expand that further, as Theravadins, we can say that some will make better progress using Mahayana teachings and practices, based on their personalities and therefore, both Theravadins and Mahayanists are on the path or direction of enlightenment (without necessarily saying something New Agey like 'all paths lead to the same mountaintop').

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by cooran » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:35 am

Hello all,

About Bahiya:

http://archive.thebuddhadharma.com/issu ... grees.html

With metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by SamKR » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:41 am

Thank you everyone for your replies. It is not necessarily my view that these suttas are the essential core of the Buddha's teachings. And with everyone's replies I am now even lesser inclined to have that view. :) But they are so great, aren't they? And may work for many people.

I agree with Retro and David that we cannot generalize and different teachings/suttas may be suitable for different people. Similarly, considering Jhana vs. Insight, we can say both may be necessary in different proportions for different people. I agree with Digity's post too.
Last edited by SamKR on Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by SamKR » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:53 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:
As far as the concise teachings given to Bahiya and Malunkyaputta, they were ripe for that teaching.
That's interesting. What makes anyone "ripe" or fit for that teaching? Most probably Buddha Knew that for Bahiya and Malunkyaputta that particular teaching would work. But now we are in the time when we can't talk to a Buddha directly. Then how to know at what level or when we should start practicing this brief, direct and powerful teaching (ie, seen in reference to the seen...)?
Bhikkhu Pesala wrote: The practice of bare awareness is the most vital teaching for those who have limited time to devote to meditation. Others may have more time to develop samatha practices before proceeding to vipassanā.
I like Bhante's point too. We also may have limited time as did Bahiya and Malunkyaputta.
Last edited by SamKR on Sun Apr 14, 2013 6:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by reflection » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:09 am

The core teachings of the Buddha to realize nibbana is not jhana, it is not vipassana, it is not bare awareness, it's not mindfulness. It is the 8-fold path. This path we see again and again in the suttas and I think we should read each sutta in this light, not pick out one and make it into something special. This is just like the erroneous translation of a part in the satipatthana sutta "this is the only path .. for the realization of nibbana". No, it's not the only path, the 8-fold path is the only path.

So this sutta must explain some part of the path that the Buddha taught was suitable to point out to those persons. It contains no secret shortcut to nibbana or the Buddha would have taught this way to everybody. In the end those students -if they indeed became enlightened- must also have walked the entire path.

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:28 am

reflection wrote:It is the 8-fold path.
Pay attention, be heedful.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by Dan74 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:24 am

tiltbillings wrote:
reflection wrote:It is the 8-fold path.
Pay attention, be heedful.
:goodpost:

...and whatever arises, don't cling to it.
_/|\_

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by reflection » Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:14 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
reflection wrote:It is the 8-fold path.
Pay attention, be heedful.
"Avoid evil, cultivate good, purify the mind."

We can find many 'short versions' of what the Buddha taught. Somewhere in the SN, there is a section of all kinds of things that are "the path", like "concentration is the path", "the enlightenment factors are the path", "faith is the path", etc. etc.

All of those 'short versions' are right in a way and quotes like this can be quite inspirational or a good reminder. And it is ok to emphasize certain things more than others. But, it can become a problem when one loses perspective and think one teaching is in some way better, faster, or more essential than the other. The perspective I would advise is all the other discourses where the path is explained. And most of the time, this is by all of the 8 factors. If we neglect certain parts of the path, it won't be fast at all. It'll be like a car that misses some wheels; bound to not arrive at its destination, but crash somewhere along the way.

And I'm not saying you do, or anyone here does, but certainly some people in the world do, or at least wish there was some special shortcut to avoid the seemingly long path. They prefer a car with one wheel.

With metta, :buddha2:
Reflection

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by alan » Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:26 pm

Keep in mind that the Buddha crafted his comments to the needs, interests, and level of his audience. That's why we see succinct, direct teachings to people he knew where on the cusp of understanding, and more vague ideas and general concepts taught to average people.

Famous suttas like Bahiya and Kalamas ,when taken out of context, just create confusion and lead to pointless speculation.

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:45 pm

reflection wrote: . . .
The bottom line is that the Eightfold Path cannot possibly be tread if one does not pay attention, is not heedful.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by alan » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:14 pm

May be true, but does not answer the OP's question.

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by tiltbillings » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:15 pm

alan wrote:May be true, but does not answer the OP's question.
And in my opinion, it actually does rather neatly.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by Lazy_eye » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:30 pm

I was interested the other day to see these remarks from a Japanese roshi, presenting the "essence" of Buddhism as follows:
Yamada Ryoun wrote:Whenever the New Year comes people think they have grown a year older and a year closer to death. But this is a big mistake. Where is that which has grown a year older, where is that which has made another step toward death? Shakyamuni pursued this question relentlessly. And he realized that this thing called the “self” had neither shadow nor form nor color nor smell nor weight nor anything at all. He realized that this “self” was no more than an image that human beings had arbitrarily produced in their heads. If “self” and “person” are no more than concepts, then “the death of a person” is no more than a concept formed from the workings of the mind. One speaks of “dying” but the “one” dying does not exist. To put it clearly, from the start “death” itself does not exist.
Is this close to the Malunkyaputta and Bahiya suttas? Sounded that way to me.
When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Malunkyaputta, there is no you in connection with that. When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress.

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by reflection » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:40 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
reflection wrote: . . .
The bottom line is that the Eightfold Path cannot possibly be tread if one does not pay attention, is not heedful.
Yup. I agree.

But you could also say heedfulness is the path, as it says in the Dhammapada. Or you could say it is only a part of the path. Or you define the path with a totally different word. It's all true in a sense, but it is also all wrong in a sense. As I said, it's all fine as long as people don't loose perspective and think some teaching is meant to be somehow superior to others, faster or better than others, overruling others. And this seems to happen quite a lot, on all sorts of fronts, on the level of view up to the level of samadhi. People rip a page out of a book and think that's the whole story. So they hold it dearly. My advise is just to read the whole book and then you can throw it all away, including that single page.

With metta,
Reflection

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Re: Essence of the Buddha's teachings?

Post by binocular » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:24 pm

Asking "What is the quickest, surest way to enlightenment?" could be done for several reasons.

It could be a genuine question.

It could also be a lazy question, or a question with which one tries to gloss over one's lack of faith in the Buddha.

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