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How much dharma do you need to know?

JaySonJaySon VeteranFlorida Veteran

"There is no need to study all the expressions of Dharma or know all the rules. To cut a path through the forest, you need not cut down all the trees. Cutting just one row can take you to the other side." -Ajahn Chah

This got me thinking... How much dharma do you really need to know?

At what point are you wasting time studying dharma when you could be practicing?

The whole point is to reap the fruit of practice... Study > Practice > Reap the Fruit of Practice... Yet there 84,000 Mahayana sutras and who knows how many tantras. Plus commentaries. You won't live long enough to study them all.

Comments

  • 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

    As long as I have The Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha in which to Take Refuge, the 8-Fold path, which is as far as I am concerned, a worthy topic for arguably a lifetime's study, the 5 precepts to help me remain on the straight and narrow, and the Brahma-Viharas to aspire to, I feel my life is full.
    The odd occasional Sutta broadens my outlook (Kalama Sutta, Soma Sutta, Sona Sutta, Simsapa Sutta) and helps me prioritise and focus.

    I'm cool with this.

    Kundo
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    edited February 5

    It depends what your goal is I suppose. There is infinite knowledge just about right? But what 'helps' the most? And you have a regular life too with loads of laundry and new recipes.

    From an e-mail that sounds useful:

    On Gayāśīrṣa Hill, Buddha Śākyamuni is visited by a great gathering of bodhisattvas who have traveled miraculously there from a distant world, to venerate him as one who has vowed to liberate beings in a world much more afflicted than their own. The visiting bodhisattvas are led by Sarvanīvaraṇaviṣkambhin, who asks the Buddha a series of searching questions. In response, the Buddha gives a detailed and systematic account of the practices, qualities, and nature of bodhisattvas, the stages of their path, their realisation, and their activities. Many of the topics are structured into sets of ten aspects, expounded with reasoned explanations and illustrated with parables and analogies. This sūtra is said to have been one of the very first scriptures translated into Tibetan. Its doctrinal richness, profundity, and clarity are justly celebrated, and some of its key statements on meditation, the realisation of emptiness, and the fundamental nature of the mind have been widely quoted in the Indian treatises and Tibetan commentarial literature.

    http://read.84000.co/translation/toh231.html

    Is this enough? "are we there yet?" Who knows :)

    personShoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    How much dharma do you need to know?

    ...Just enough to go with the flow ! :)

    When are we (Buddhist practitioners) not practicing & studying the Dharma ? It's ongoing ...a thread that runs throughout a practitioner's daily life...

    The Truth/Dharma...The Whole Truth/Dharma...And Nothing but The Truth/Dharma so help me Buddha...

    (Dharma=The Truth AKA The True Nature of things as they are )

    Thoughts Words & Deeds, all the trials & errors of ones daily Dharma practice & study...

    ~Dogen~ said something along the lines of....

    Don't practice to become enlightened, let enlightenment be the natural expression of your practice

    Practicing the Dharma is like a lotus that is gradually opening...

    Jeffreylobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    Be
    Kind :)

    ShoshinJaySon
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited February 6

    @JaySon said:
    "There is no need to study all the expressions of Dharma or know all the rules. To cut a path through the forest, you need not cut down all the trees. Cutting just one row can take you to the other side." -Ajahn Chah

    Reminds me of another quote from Ajahn Chah, "The heart is the only book worth reading."

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

    I’ve often wondered about this. There was a Zen story in which an uneducated dishwasher becomes enlightened... there are a lot of sayings about going beyond the mind, it all makes you wonder to what extent the contents of the mind are relevant. Certainly enlightenment seems to have an effect on the content of the mind, but it makes little sense to just become a mimic of the right behaviour while studying and waiting for lightning to strike.

    And the Buddha adjusted his teachings according to whom was listening, but without his guidance you don’t know which teachings are right for you in the here and now. We just fish in the Sutra pool and sometimes come up with something relevant, and absorb some by osmosis.

    person
  • GuiGui Veteran Veteran
    edited February 6

    On the other hand, studying can be a great way to avoid practicing and practicing can be a great way to avoid being. From time to time, I have to ask my self if I am doing or just acting.

    JaySonKundoperson
  • JaySonJaySon Veteran Florida Veteran

    I could spend my whole life just letting go of craving and clinging and selfish desire and opinions and pleasure and aversion, and just try to walk the middle path. But at some point I know I need to enter the vajrayana to eliminate subtle obscurations and do all I can to try and help others.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    edited February 7

    How much dharma do you really need to know?

    All of it. Impossible?

    Start. Continue. Refine. Begin anew.

    IZ PLAN!

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    "To see nothing is to perceive the Way, and to understand nothing is to know the Dharma, because seeing is neither seeing nor not seeing and because understanding is neither understanding nor not understanding. Seeing without seeing is true vision. Understanding without understanding is true understanding."

    "Only when you understand nothing is it true understanding"

    ~Bodhidharma

    =)

    lobsterGuiKerome
  • 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

    @seeker242 said:
    "To see nothing is to perceive the Way, and to understand nothing is to know the Dharma, because seeing is neither seeing nor not seeing and because understanding is neither understanding nor not understanding. Seeing without seeing is true vision. Understanding without understanding is true understanding."

    "Only when you understand nothing is it true understanding"

    ~Bodhidharma

    =)

    It's official - my brain hurts!

    JaySonseeker242
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @seeker242 said:
    "Only when you understand nothing is it true understanding”

    Speaking of moving beyond the mind...

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran

    @seeker242 said:
    "To see nothing is to perceive the Way, and to understand nothing is to know the Dharma, because seeing is neither seeing nor not seeing and because understanding is neither understanding nor not understanding. Seeing without seeing is true vision. Understanding without understanding is true understanding."

    "Only when you understand nothing is it true understanding"

    ~Bodhidharma

    One of the reasons the legendary Bodhidharma meditated so long, was to slow down the seduction of the senses. In other words not processing and projecting ... We can not understand such words through reason. Only through understanding without insisting there is something to understand ...

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