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Continuing the introduction

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited May 6 in Buddhism Today

As I’ve mentioned I’ve been working my way through the Access To Insight article which is an introduction to the Buddha’s teaching, and I would highly recommend it to people as a tour of the highlights of the Suttas. It basically takes the Buddha’s gradual instruction method and illustrates it with the suttas, all cross-linked and sourced so that when you see a section of a sutta that speaks to you you can go and explore the entire text.

Here is the list of topics in the sequence that the Buddha used to teach them:

Generosity (dana)
Virtue (sila)
— The 5 Precepts
Heaven (sagga)
Drawbacks (adinava)
Renunciation (nekkhamma)
The Four Noble Truths
— The Noble Eightfold Path

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/index.html

I find it intriguing that very few people seem to teach Buddhism in this way any more, among the Tibetans where I’ve done some study courses there is a lot more focus on for instance the Lam Rim methods, or if you go looking via Google it takes you directly to the Four Noble Truths. But rarely do you see a complete lecture such as the Buddha gave, covering these various steps of instruction.

person

Comments

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited May 6

    From the renunciation section, from the Abhaya sutta, also called Fearless:

    "And who is the person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death?

    "There is the case of the person who has abandoned passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever, and craving for sensuality. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought does not occur to him, 'O, those beloved sensual pleasures will be taken from me, and I will be taken from them!' He does not grieve, is not tormented; does not weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.

    "Furthermore, there is the case of the person who has abandoned passion, desire, fondness, thirst, fever, and craving for the body. Then he comes down with a serious disease. As he comes down with a serious disease, the thought does not occur to him, 'O, my beloved body will be taken from me, and I will be taken from my body!' He does not grieve, is not tormented; does not weep, beat his breast, or grow delirious. This, too, is a person who, subject to death, is not afraid or in terror of death.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.184.than.html

    I find these suttas on sensuality and craving for the body to be fascinating because the body does have a strong aspect of sensuality to it. There is a certain pleasure to being in a body that is operating well, a smoothness and a pleasantness within the body. It is not about a sexual sensuality but a kind of background aspect of physicality.

    This sutta seems to say, abandon passion, desire and even fondness for sensuality in all its forms, and at the same time abandon passion, desire and fondness for the body.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited May 6

    Bear in mind, @kerome, that Theravada teachings came before Mahayana leanings. It's sometimes, but not always possible to compare the two. The school of Mahayana is a later construct and it is, in and of itself, sub-divided into several adherent 'schools'.
    Theravada relies entirely on the earlier Pali texts...

    Furthermore....

    Although early Buddhism is widely believed to take a negative attitude toward the body, the texts of the Pali canon do not support this belief. They approach the body both in its positive role, as an object of meditation to develop mindfulness, concentration, and the mental powers based on concentration; and in its negative role as an object for unskillful states of mind. Even in its negative role, the body is not the culprit: the problem is the mind's attachment to the body. Once the body can be used in its positive role, to develop mindfulness and concentration, those mental qualities can be used to free the mind of its attachments to the body. Then, as many a modern meditation master has noted, the mind and body can live in peace.

    Read more, here.

    Keromeperson
  • TsultrimTsultrim Hawaii Veteran

    I have enjoyed some of the sutras that have been presented. I wonder, however, if they are the most efficacious way to approach the Dharma in this day and age.
    For 2500 years since the Buddha, great minds and great experiencer's have worked with the Dharma, and I feel they have added important insights, as well as refined others over that time. I question whether it isn't better to pass up the rather tedious and ancient format of Buddha's sutras and go to the juice of them as presented by great masters of our time?
    I revere the Buddha and feel that he may have been the most important human who ever lived. I can also understand why there are those who want to go to the source of Buddhism without interpretations by others. It just seems to me that there is the risk of incomplete understanding and over expenditure of time with the sutras.

    Shoshin
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Slightly off topic but a number of times I have heard Sri Lankan and Thai teachers state that we need to develop sila and dana before we can expect to get anything out of our meditation practice.

    All too often people new to meditation and who've grown up in a culture that encourages stinginess and living with no regard to the precepts wonder why their meditation practice doesn't reap any rewards......

    Carry on...

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran
    edited May 7

    @Tsultrim said:
    I have enjoyed some of the sutras that have been presented. I wonder, however, if they are the most efficacious way to approach the Dharma in this day and age.

    I would imagine it depends what you think the dharma is? A Pureland follower would have a different view from those who adhere to Theravada.

    For 2500 years since the Buddha, great minds and great experiencer's have worked with the Dharma, and I feel they have added important insights, as well as refined others over that time. I question whether it isn't better to pass up the rather tedious and ancient format of Buddha's sutras and go to the juice of them as presented by great masters of our time?

    Certainly the sutra’s are old and not really written in a form that’s appealing to the poetic mind. And as I said before I’ve taken part in a number of introductions to Buddhism, and usually gotten something out of them. So I certainly don’t mean to say anything negative about these other approaches.

    I revere the Buddha and feel that he may have been the most important human who ever lived. I can also understand why there are those who want to go to the source of Buddhism without interpretations by others.

    The Buddha was both enlightened and a great teacher... that’s why I wanted to see what remains of his way of teaching and words in the sutra’s. I don’t have the memory to encompass all of it, that’s why I found the Access To Insight introduction and study guides so wonderful a find.

    Truly enlightened teachers are in my view a rarity, and their words are a treasure. But in Buddhism because of the way it is structured it is difficult to pick out which of the many teachers were actually enlightened, and which were merely talented workers with knowledge of what had been said before. Therefore if you want to study the words of the enlightened, the Buddha is an essential cornerstone.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    Slightly off topic but a number of times I have heard Sri Lankan and Thai teachers state that we need to develop sila and dana before we can expect to get anything out of our meditation practice.

    This is true, and you need to recognise in yourself that you have been virtuous, and not efface that part of one’s being. For example I was brought up to be honest, not to steal, I’ve always felt an abhorrence of killing, but I always treated these things as totally normal, and so in the Buddha’s methodology I wasn’t so much established in conscious virtue and peace of mind. Without the concept of virtue and what it means you are still a bit lost...

    All too often people new to meditation and who've grown up in a culture that encourages stinginess and living with no regard to the precepts wonder why their meditation practice doesn't reap any rewards......

    Here in Western Europe the state has taken on a lot of the role that generosity would have played in ages past. There are relatively few homeless people, because of the existence of state aid (in the UK benefits). So it is easy to grow up in a culture where you are not used to giving, because the state does it for you.

    Which means that in Buddhist terms the ideas of generosity have been far removed from you, everyone around you has always had enough. And you may find it suddenly a shock to be confronted with those who appeal for your aid, and then to decide what to give...

    Bunks
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Still from the renunciation section, the Kaligodha sutta

    [The Buddha:] "Is it true, Bhaddiya that, on going to a forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, you repeatedly exclaim, 'What bliss! What bliss!'?"

    [Ven. Bhaddiya:] "Yes, lord."

    "What meaning do you have in mind that you repeatedly exclaim, 'What bliss! What bliss!'?"

    "Before, when I was a householder, maintaining the bliss of kingship, I had guards posted within and without the royal apartments, within and without the city, within and without the countryside. But even though I was thus guarded, thus protected, I dwelled in fear — agitated, distrustful, and afraid. But now, on going alone to a forest, to the foot of a tree, or to an empty dwelling, I dwell without fear, unagitated, confident, and unafraid — unconcerned, unruffled, my wants satisfied, with my mind like a wild deer. This is the meaning I have in mind that I repeatedly exclaim, 'What bliss! What bliss!'"

    Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

    In whom there exists
    no provocation,
    & for whom becoming & non-becoming are overcome,
    he is one — beyond fear, blissful, without grief,
    whom the devas can't see.

    It makes it clear that when living in the present and without possessions, as a renunciate, one can find bliss. But if you talk to homeless people nowadays, you find they are concerned with finding a bathroom, a shower, a shelter when it is cold... still troubles beset them. It is the nature of the mind.

    Yes renunciation means a very different way of life, where many thoughts can be dropped, but in the modern age it is not quite the same as in the Indian forests around 500 BC. Still it is amazing to think of how many years have passed and how man’s intellectual life has changed in between.

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