Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Are we always learning in Buddhism? Or is there a point of knowing enough then practising it..

edited June 2011 in Sanghas
This question is strictly concerning Buddhism.
Because I know that we 'can learn something new everyday'
But in 'Buddhism alone' is there an ending in teachings? Because again I know that buddhist practice is a LIFE LONG practice. But the question is, does buddhas teaching only go to a certain point and after that its all about putting it into practice?

Comments

  • aMattaMatt Veteran Veteran
    We can't really undertsand the teachings without practice. Even if we had every sutta memorized, we would need to practice in order to see what we knew. Said differently, gaining knowledge is not a primary concern, and the teachings are focused on leading us to conducting our practice correctly.
  • CloudCloud Veteran Veteran
    I agree with @aMatt. We learn the teachings as best we can on the conceptual level, and then we awaken (first bhumi or stream-entry). Then the teachings take on new and deeper meanings that help lead us further down the rabbit hole to complete unbinding. At each progressive stage the teachings become more clear on the level of "noble right view" that is the clear and direct seeing of reality as it is. We could probably give up on needing the teachings at some point, but they don't fail to be useful in some way until full enlightenment.
  • What is learning? Truly it is new "insight".
    Insight is:1. the ability to perceive clearly or deeply; penetration .
    I think that penetration and reciprical opening never ends, it is in fact the joyful interplay of the cosmos.To participate directly in that IS awakening, IMO

    Perhaps you are asking if at some point we become omniescent and reach some kind of peak of realization? In truth I think Buddhism is a lot more about unlearning .There are so many things we must drop to become purely awakened, including the goal itself.






  • Its always good to get to know the foundation of Buddhism first. A popular site is "Buddhanet.net" Once you have have realized the foundation of Buddhism, you can either start practicing right away, or read further into the teachings then put them into practice when you feel comfortable.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    There are two chapters on the activity and nature of a buddha in the Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa which is over 1000 year old Tibetan Buddhist text. I haven't read that chapter myself or I could provide more feedback.
  • Thank you everyone. However i still dont feel i have my answer.
    Im asking 'is there an end in buddhas teachings??
    So basically, is there somewhere i can find ALL the buddhas teachings and then start practising? Like a Book to read? or dvd to watch? or courses to do?
    I try my best to follow the 8 fold path and meditate every morning. But im just wondering if there is, say ONE BOOK, which has EVERYTHING you need to know?

    Does this exist??
  • zenffzenff Veteran Veteran
    From day one, I think, it was all about putting it into practice.
    Learning Buddhism is like learning to ride a bicycle; reading books about it does not get you very far.

    It’s important to get a taste for putting meditation, kindness and compassion into practice.
    The texts we know and the opinions we have about them, are secondary at best.
    For me, what Buddhism is all about fits on the back of a beer mat.


  • CloudCloud Veteran Veteran
    edited June 2011
    Thank you everyone. However i still dont feel i have my answer. Im asking 'is there an end in buddhas teachings?? So basically, is there somewhere i can find ALL the buddhas teachings and then start practising? Like a Book to read? or dvd to watch? or courses to do?
    Wow. No. Sorry! Depending upon your tradition, you'll have a selection of traditional scriptures (sutras/suttas) that are held as the standard for that school of Buddhist thought. Check out http://www.buddhanet.net and find which school or branch of Buddhism you're looking into, and study up on it. I'm sure it'll be clear what texts to read from that.

    Good luck though, there are a lot of texts. Even the oldest surviving school has a canon (the Pali Canon in fact, which is regarded as authentic by all schools) that is about eleven (11) times the size of the Holy Bible... I don't think anyone's ever put all of the scriptures into a single book, it's more where you learn from a teacher what you have to do in your practice and you study whatever you can, when you can, on top of your teacher's instructions.

    Of course there are books by authors who have taken what they've understood of Buddhism and tried to teach others. Those are worth a read, because the archaic language and meanings have been digested and spit out in a more palatable format. Beware though, they may not know what they're talking about! I'm sure BuddhaNet references some books, a lot of which are by accomplished teachers/masters/gurus in their own Buddhist lineage.
  • genkakugenkaku Veteran Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    edited June 2011
    But im just wondering if there is, say ONE BOOK, which has EVERYTHING you need to know?
    __________________________

    Probably there is, but only you can decide which one it is. Scripture and explanations are basically to encourage you to practice. Practice takes patience, so, while you're busy being patient, you can read a few books that strike you as relevant.

    If it serves as an answer to your OP, I just recently sent out feelers to find out who might like to have the spiritual-endeavor books I have. They are gathering dust on my shelves, however expensive and wise they once were. I mention this only as a possible indicator of what can happen after 40 years of sometimes intensive snooping in the Buddhist fields.

    PS. And no, I will not ship them, collect or otherwise, nor will I give them to a friend who lives nearby. If anyone wants them, they are welcome to them. Knock on my door and promise to pass them along to someone else when the time comes.
  • upekkaupekka Veteran Veteran

    'is there an end in buddhas teachings?

    yes, that is being the full enlightened one/ becoming an Arahnts
    after that Dhamma (Buddha's Teaching) and the Arahant (the enlightened one) is the same
    but it is a long way away depending on how far we have been practising Buddha's Teaching
    may be some are very close to the end, and some are just beginning but we can not say it for sure because we have not that power of wisdom with us

    it is said that Buddhas only had/will have that wisdom

    So basically, is there somewhere i can find ALL the buddhas teachings and then start practising?
    im just wondering if there is, say ONE BOOK, which has EVERYTHING you need to know?

    Does this exist??
    yes
    first follow what Cloud suggested to get a basic understanding of Buddha's Teaching
    then read the ONE BOOK which has EVERYTHING you need to know which is your own Heart/Mind/Citta

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran
    edited June 2011
    But im just wondering if there is, say ONE BOOK, which has EVERYTHING you need to know?

    Does this exist??
    I don't know what your tradition is, but in the Tibetan tradition there is what is known as the Lamrim or graduated path to enlightenment. It was originally composed by Atisha when he came to Tibet and was asked to give a complete and easily accessible summary of the doctrine in order to clarify wrong views. Later versions were composed by, as @Jeffery said, Gampopa in the Kagyu lineage and Je Tsongkhapa in the Gelug.

    From the opening line of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamrim -- Lamrim (Tibetan: "stages of the path") is a Tibetan Buddhist textual form for presenting the stages in the complete path to enlightenment as taught by Buddha.

    There are several good modern versions. The one I have is http://www.amazon.com/Liberation-Palm-Your-Hand-Enlightenment/dp/0861715004/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306963632&sr=1-7 and the three volume version that Jeffery was talking about is here http://www.amazon.com/Great-Treatise-Stages-Path-Enlightenment/dp/1559391529/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306963632&sr=1-1

    These books have all the teachings but they are presented in the traditional Tibetan style of teaching and its a good idea to also read other books to get a broader perspective.
  • 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
    All you need - all you will ever need - all that is necessary - is that you read, digest, know, understand and realise the Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold path and the 5 precepts.
    herein lies everything you will truly ever need to accomplish awakening and being Buddha.

    That's it.

    Oh and...The Dhammapada is a condensed version of the Buddha's teachings.
    Good read.
  • All you need - all you will ever need - all that is necessary - is that you read, digest, know, understand and realise the Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold path and the 5 precepts.
    herein lies everything you will truly ever need to accomplish awakening and being Buddha.

    The Dhammapada is a condensed version of the Buddha's teachings.
    Good read.
    Ok thanks everyone. Im already getting a better understanding now. But this answer caught my attention. Are you saying then that as long as im fully aware of the four noble truths and eight fold path and precepts (which i am and practice) this is ALL i need in practising buddhas teachings?? If so then there is an end right? And that would be the 8th of the eight fold path and the 5th of the 5 precepts. Follow them all and they are the main buddhas teachings.
    Is this right??

  • And if the dhammapada is suppose to be words from the buddha then would that be the book to buy???
  • And don't forget that the book when read by an untrained mind will reveal totally different meanings than when read by someone who has had experiences beyond duality.

    the point is to take the first step - if you can confine yourself to only one book, you may not truly be that interested in Buddhism . LOL



  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    There is an end to 'so what'. Intellectual realization hits an end and then it says "whats next?". "so what?". These indicate that the dharma has not been realized deeply.

    I recommend going deeper and deeper. Find a teaching that has many levels. And you can make it the practice of your whole life to go deeper and deeper.
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran
    Intellectual understanding obtained by reading and studying texts and listening to teachings has been likened to Buddha pointing at the moon. The point though is to look at the moon and not stay stuck on the Buddha's finger. So we need the teachings to know where to look but ultimately the Buddhist path is about integrating the teachings into our minds and lives.

    The Buddhist teachings are vast and deep, especially if you study across traditions. People spend their whole lives studying them and can't learn it all. The important thing is that when you do gain some understanding of a particular teaching, integrate it into your life through refelection and meditation.

    ---

    "And if the dhammapada is suppose to be words from the buddha then would that be the book to buy???"

    ---

    Its best not to focus in on just one book at the beginning but to get a taste for a wide range of teachings. Try different traditions and see which one resonates with you the most and then focus on that.
  • genkakugenkaku Veteran Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    Are you saying then that as long as im fully aware of the four noble truths and eight fold path and precepts (which i am and practice) this is ALL i need in practising buddhas teachings??
    ___________________________________________

    Being "aware" too often means what fills the mind and spills off the end of the tongue. To realize and actualize these very good teachings is a whole other matter. Buddhist practice centers on actualization. It's a put-up-or-shut-up kind of thing.
  • Even if we had every sutta memorized, we would need to practice in order to see what we knew. Said differently, gaining knowledge is not a primary concern, and the teachings are focused on leading us to conducting our practice correctly.
    I think you're right, although the suttas are also a primary source of information about how to practice correctly.

    Spiny
  • mugzymugzy Veteran Veteran
    The path is the goal.
  • I think there may be a point at which one ceases to study the written suttas and continues to learn from direct observation and awareness.
  • I think there may be a point at which one ceases to study the written suttas and continues to learn from direct observation and awareness.

    For me it's a continual process of positive feedback, regularly checking back with the suttas to develop understanding based on practical experience.
    Having said that, I think that working with the Four Noble Truths is quite sufficient.

    Spiny
  • mugzymugzy Veteran Veteran
    While I was reading this book today I thought of this thread and wanted to share this quote. It is more about pride, but I think it is relevant in terms of how we think of the dharma teachings we learn and ourselves as practitioners.

    "Pride is something that is very nasty and sneaky because, without your even noticing it, it actually closes the door to the development of pure qualities. If you think you already know something, then even while you're listening to teachings or contemplating teachings, you already have an attitude that you know something more than that. This prevents you from learning about what you are hearing. When you achieve the status of full awakening and are free from the bondage of cyclic existence, then you can have some sense of true confidence that you know something because your mind is finally free from mental darkness."

    Gyatrul Rinpoche, Meditation, Transformation, and Dream Yoga (pp. 47-48). Kindle Edition.
  • This question is strictly concerning Buddhism.
    Because I know that we 'can learn something new everyday'
    But in 'Buddhism alone' is there an ending in teachings? Because again I know that buddhist practice is a LIFE LONG practice. But the question is, does buddhas teaching only go to a certain point and after that its all about putting it into practice?
    I think there is continual learning, @mugzy's post above is great. The idea of "I'm past that point" is not helpful.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    In response to mugzy I find it helpful to be in touch with my mind and alive to the present in cutting through some of that pride. At least there are moments when real questioning and sharing is recollected. Its like you are surprised you don't know something and then out of that some creativity and interest comes.
  • If everything is impermanent, then even perfection would not be permanent, neh?
  • CloudCloud Veteran Veteran
    edited June 2011
    @Malachy12, Perfection is a dualistic concept, because for "perfect" to exist then "imperfect" must also exist. ;) You're right though, any "state" of "things" must pass. The phenomena are empty and ever-changing, all that seems to stay the same is that this change happens, and based on that change and the conditionality of all phenomena, there's no possibility of a core essence or "self" to any phenomena, and when we see how our grasping to the emptiness causes us pain... we stop. Our mind, that is. It's deeper than mere thought, mere intellectualism and reasoning.
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the void Veteran
    Here's an excerpt from a story about that shows how cultivating Dharma realizations are far more important than Dharma knowledge:

    When Chudapanthaka grew up, he turned out to be very slow. When he tried to learn a word such as "siddham", he would pronounce the first syllable "si" only to forget the second syllable "ddham", and vice versa. Later he was passed over to another master to study with a reader of the Vedas who taught him to say Om Bhu. Again he remembered the first word "Om" and forgot the second word "Bhu", and vice versa The frustrated teacher said to Panthaka's father, "Your other son, Mahapanthaka, was able to learn after only a small amount of instructions but this child I cannot instruct any longer!" And so, this boy who was utterly slow and dull was known as the Small Road.

    Sometime later, the two boys' parents died. Mahapanthaka entered the Muni's teaching and, after mastering the three baskets, became an Arhat.

    Soon afterwards he was visited by his younger brother, Chudapanthaka who had exhausted all the family's wealth. Mahapandthaka checked to see if his younger brother had any capacity for the Dharma and discovered not only that he did but also that he, Chudapanthaka, bore the responsibility for its development. So he arranged for his younger brother to leave the householder's life and became ordained as a monk
    Chudapanthaka then was given the following verse to learn:
    Do no evil with body, speech or mind:
    Grasp at everything in the world.
    He who is empty of desire, mindful, and circumspect
    Does not seek suffering or the useless.
    After three months of study, Chudapanthaka still had not been able to learn the verse, yet nearby the cowherds and other herdsmen had learned it just by overhearing his recitation.

    Later, Arya Mahapanthaka pondered whether to use encouragement or criticism to train his brother. Seeing that criticism would be more effective, he grabbed Chudapanthaka by the neck and threw him out of the Jetavana grove, saying, "You are slow, utterly slow! What can you accomplish by being a monk? Stay away!"

    Chudapanthaka thought to himself, "Now I am neither an ascetic nor a Brahman," and began to weep sadly.

    The Master, the omniscient Lord Buddha, stirred by great compassion, came and asked: "Panthaka, Why are you crying?"

    "I was criticized by my preceptor." Chudapanthaka said.

    Then Buddha declared: "There is praise by the foolish and criticism by the wise. Criticism by the wise is excellent, not so praise by the foolish." Then Buddha proceeded to say, "Son, your preceptor is not the one who established this teaching after enduring much hardship for three great kalpas in order to complete the six perfections. I am the one who founded it in this way. Would you like to study with the Tathagata?"

    "Venerable One, I am slow, very slow, and dull, very dull. How can one such as I study?"

    The Buddha again declared: "The fool who knows his foolish nature is thus wise about that. But the fool who thinks himself wise is here truly said to be a fool." Then Buddha gave Chudapanthaka two simple phrases to learn: "I am removing dust," and "I am removing dirt." But Chudapanthaka could not remember them. Then the Blessed One decided to purify him of his bad karma and said, "Panthaka, can you clean the shoes of the bhiksus?"

    "Venerable one, I can do that."

    "Go then, and clean the shoes and sandals of the bhiksus." The Blessed One also told the bhiksus to allow Chudapanthaka to do this, informing them that its purpose was to remove his bad karma. He further directed that they teach Chudapanthaka to recite the above two phrases. These instructions were carried out and after some time Chudapanthaka finally did learn the two phrases.

    Then the Buddha declared, "You need not wipe shoes any longer. Now sweep the temple while reciting the same two phrases."

    Although Chudapanthaka swept the temple ground with great vigor, each time he finished cleaning the left side, the Buddha would miraculously cause the left side to become filled with dust. Likewise, each time he finished cleaning the right side, the Buddha would cause the right side to become filled with dust again.

    Nonetheless, Chudapanthaka persevered in his efforts until finally his karmic obscurations were cleared away. Then the following thought occurred to him: "When the Buddha taught me the phrases 'I am removing dust, I am removing dirt,' did he mean inner dust or outer dust?" At that moment three verses which he had never before heard came to his mind:
    This dust is desire, not particles of dirt.
    "Dust" is a term for desire, not granules.
    The wise rid themselves of this dust
    And are attentive to the Sugata's teaching.
    The second and third verses were the same except that the words "hatred" and "ignorance" respectively replaced "desire." By meditating on the meaning of these verses, Chudapanthaka eventually achieved the status of an Arhat.

  • @cloud yes, I need to find a good word to describe that change. Maybe transitory, but that just means impermanent again. Perfect is a dualistic concept as you say, I guess when I use it I mean that human expression of "well this is good enough, I don't need to change anything else!", but then it's challenged when something new occurs. It seems most of our young life we are saying "I've got it all figured out!", over and over until we finally concede to the fact that we never have it all figured out.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    If everything is impermanent, then even perfection would not be permanent, neh?
    I would not go so far as to say that everything is impermanent because "the unconditioned" is not impermanent.
    :)
  • CloudCloud Veteran Veteran
    edited June 2011
    There are "things" / "phenomena", and then there are the apparent forces that act upon things (and we do not know why or what the cause of these forces is). We don't know why everything is in a constant state of change, we only know that change happens constantly, and because of that force all "things" are transient (and in fact aren't stable "things" at all but rather the current configuration of changing matter). Because things come and go, and are interdependently conditioned, there is no core essence or "self" to any fleeting thing. It's important to distinguish between phenomena and the forces that act upon them (or whatever).
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    Nice story person!
Sign In or Register to comment.