I must admit, I have a liking for simple teachings. Which teachings do I find simple? For example, that clinging creates suffering, and that by letting go we can find peace and happiness. Profound, but easy to understand, and not too difficult to apply.
Which teachings we find difficult, on the other hand, is something that is quite personal. For me, it’s those that do not cause an intuitive ah-ha moment, a realisation that we have grasped it inside. Anatta is one, emptiness is another. I can have these teachings explained to me, but the explanation is always slightly roundabout, and while it may be easy to understand it often doesn’t appear intuitive to me.
There is something in me that says, if there is not that intuitive realisation that “this is true” then in a way the teaching is not a true teaching. In a way this is related to there being a way of testing the teachings, of seeing internally if something is true, if it aligns with and extends what you have found to be so.
How do you relate to what you consider difficult teachings? Which teachings do you find difficult?
I would not confuse teachings that can be easily articulated with being simple when each new moment of consciousness demonstrates how often we can catch ourselves being oblivious to their existence.
I don’t think it is just about how teachings are articulated, although that of course plays a role. Look for example at how Thich Nhat Hanh teaches about emptiness... he says the teaching is about emptiness and then focuses on ‘being empty of what?’ Which he answers by saying ‘being empty of the self’. It’s slightly roundabout, and if that was what was meant in the first place, would it not have been easier to translate ‘emptiness’ everywhere with ‘empty of self’?
Of course even a teaching that is simple and that gives you a feeling of ‘aha - that’s right’ doesn’t necessarily fully transmit its meaning in a few moments. Often these things take time to ripen, and it can take months or years during which your understanding gradually deepens. Often this has to do with meditating.
But despite meditating on it with some regularity, the teachings of emptiness have failed to connect with me. Perhaps not every teaching connects with every person, there may be lessons which you have surpassed or which you are not yet ready for.
There are many teachings that we may have difficulty with.
Mostly because we are playing with aspects of ego, the lost, the useless, the impediments.
Teachings are simple but because some of us are convoluted, they have to be presented as:
Once I accept that knowledge has layers, that may flip-flop/reverse, I may sit quietly and live a simpler, better, kinder life … as much as possible.
someone once said that teachings should not be difficult. However, applying them diligently may prove challenging.
Peace to All
Perhaps it is so that the intuitive moment of “aha - this is truth” is part of what it means to test the teachings. That if you do not sense that connection to the teaching then it is something that is not for you.
I tread a broad path. Sure it narrows at times to encompass ideas not in dharma.
In one sense we never join or leave but practice as @Lionduck mentions. How then to be diligent? Answers to the usual places …
Most often, I remember them - not deliberately really, but because they seem enigmatic at the time they seem to get filed away in memory and then put on a back burner to simmer. Later, maybe years later, they resurface and, perhaps, I see them in a clearer light.
I think Anatta and emptiness are like this - takes a long time to get close enough to salt their tails. Not quite there yet.
The closest I have ever come to Anatta was the analogy of the chariot. It is the consideration that the chariot is made up entirely of non-chariot parts... if you take away the axle, is a chariot still a chariot? Yet you haven’t taken the part named chariot away. In the same way, or so it is said, the self consists of non-self parts.
I do the same @fosdick, teachings that I don’t immediately connect with are stored away, to be ruminated upon until such time that I can discern their validity and understand their meaning deeply.
I came across this teaching by Ajahn Chah, which seemed appropriate:
Perhaps you just know the right teaching to focus on now intuitively, it just seems right.
I will give you a teaching I find challenging:
The Adi Buddha is just another 'my way is Ye Ultimate'- a sort of D-Adi God such as yoda-odin or Mx Allah
… however the principles/representations are beyond existence and dharma. In this sense they are beyond subjective representation or existence. If formed they are empty.
So when pujaing/praying, the best I can say is 'God is greater' or more than is knowable.
Thankfully Buddhism does not need such Empty Forms … though may use them …
One way to enable this challenge is by finding the Guru/Buddha/God Form in … Everything.
Here is one Wholey hole holy holly version
… and something for the Buddhas
Interesting that it calls itself Mahayana, and borrows substantially from the Tibetan, but it doesn’t say very much about Siddhartha Gautama, and instead it creates a pantheon of Buddha’s, bodhisattvas and emanations who are to be worshipped. Is it challenging because it is close to home? I thought you were into Vajrayana @lobster?
Vajrayana is skilful memes if memory serves me rite.
Buddhism is not our only into.
Not all my cakes are Butter, Buddha or eaten …
I try to see how they move the story forward in regards to the Four NTs. If they seem to run counter to them then I investigate other angles and try not to discriminate based on my bias.
I feel not having bias, tendencies, impediments is hard. Your efforts are sound/practical. 🙏🏽💗🦞
All teachings are simple, though some of my illusions can be quite complicated.
It's kind of like when Sarah Palin built her house and obscured my view of Russia. I build illusions that regularly block my view of reality. Some illusions are more opaque than others; some I paint darker hues than others which prevents more light from getting through, etc.
Thanks. I feel a lack of bias is likely wishful thinking. Keeping that in mind makes it a bit easier to cultivate non-attachment to views.
What I have come across is the notion that in every teaching of the Buddha there can be found all of the other teachings, if you look deep enough into it. So sometimes it helps to see a teaching in relation to another teaching that you understand better.
Einstein's Theory of Relativity is exquisitely simple simple. his proceedure, justificatiom, rational is not.
Buddhist teaching is also exquisitly simple. But in expalining it, people go to great lengths to complicate it.
I think it depends, when you look at Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching, it is still simple, but it’s not all about suffering, he understands that there is also happiness and when he talks about the Noble truths it is about the balance of the two. It’s a slightly different perspective.