So I have heard in unreliable regions of the internet...
Often when the Buddha spoke it was in hints, in something that still needed some interpretation.
Often when the Buddha spoke it was with a specific listener in mind, the answer given was there to make sense to that person.
Often when the Buddha spoke he was creating a specific effect, he was giving a teaching which did not immediately extend to a general lesson.
I thought it was interesting to discuss these, because it does make a difference as to how you approach reading the sutra’s. Often it is tempting to just take a sutra and say, I am the questioner and let the Buddha speak to you, but you are forgetting that he is pitching his answer at a very different kind of person.
One approach to a Sutra reading today, which might be described differently tomorrow is...
Beyond a cursory initial check to ensure that a sutra that I am unfamiliar with, reflects the 4 seals of Buddhist authenticity, my main interest in Sutra reading is to not filter out any of its offerings through the habituated biases of my own conditioning.
My approach then to reading a sutra is to try to offer it's teaching a respectful reception by being be still, non-conceptual and unrestrained by introspection & concentration.
Here, when the subject and object of my intellect gets little referentiality to play around with, a sutra’s true graces might occasionally be met.
I think it was Jack Kornfield who I recently heard tell a story about his early days with one of his teachers. He heard the teacher telling one person one thing and another something different. He got judgmental and thought his teacher was being hypocritical. When he asked the teacher about it the response was sometimes someone strays off the road to far to the right and I tell them to go left, sometimes someone strays off the road to far to the left and I tell them to go right, that is all I do.
I think that demonstrates the value of a qualified teacher. With so many different teachings it is a lot of trial and error and guesswork trying to figure out which way to go on your own sometimes. Also, to keep motivated.
I also think that amidst all the diverse teachings certain core truths can be discerned and its prudent to focus on those when uncertain. At least that's what I tend to fall back to, its not like there isn't plenty of work to be done still on the foundations.
Very true. I read a comment by a Buddhist on another forum the other day which said that all he needed was a handful of sutras which he had memorised, and that he still worked on them daily.
The Immeasurable Meanings Sutra says: “[Because people’s natures and desires are not alike], I preached the Law in various different ways. Preaching the Law in various different ways, I made use of the power of expedient means. But in these more than forty years, I have not yet revealed the truth.”
Simsapa leaf Sutta.
The Buddha revealed the truth in the Lotus Sutra. This quote below supports that.
“Honestly discarding expedient means, I will preach only the unsurpassed way"
The teaching that directly reveals the truth of enlightenment is called the true teaching, while the teachings that are expounded in accordance with the people’s capacity and as a temporary means of leading people to the truth are called expedient teachings or provisional teachings.
There are reliable regions of the Internet? Prepare the life rafts ... women and lobsters first ... Reliable dharma ... here we come ...
I don't know where he found those three things, but I know that they were reliable. At least from a Mahayana Buddhist perspective.
The first one I heard in an Osho discourse where he was talking about the Dhammapada, the second one is my own observation, the third I came across multiple times on various forums and I thought it belonged in this list.
I just wanted to reflect on the difficulty of correctly applying a translated sutra, there are things that every NewBuddhist should know about reading sutra’s which are usually given very little comment. It’s like knowing which sutras were addressed to lay people and which ones to monks.