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Why does Buddhism waste so much time on esoteric philosophical speculation?

opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

Here is a question the Buddha was once asked: "Are the images or replicas (pratibimba) which are the object (gocara) of meditative concentration (samadhi) different/separate (bhinna) from the contemplating mind (*citta) or not." I mean, who gives a rat's ass? If you see a homeless person, are you going to lecture him on the merits of duality v. non-duality? Most people don't even know what terms like these mean. It's stuff like this that makes Buddhist sutras unreadable, unlike the Bible or Koran, which are just straight-up stories that anyone can follow. Why can't Buddhists just say "The Buddha loves everyone and wants all people to love and help each other?" Is that so hard?

Comments

  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Veteran

    I must confess, I too have often wondered why some people (not aiming this at people on this forum mind you) are more focused on appearing intellectual by out-quoting the dharma or focusing on the theory of dharma rather than just practising the dharma and discussing it in lay terms for everyone to understand.

    opiumpoetryAlex
  • 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 September 10

    Takes all sorts to make a world. You can't clothe the world in leather. Wear shoes instead. Sorted.
    "You go your way and I'll go mine" is a good motto to live by.
    Or if you want a Biblical quote, ".. first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." *Matthew 7:5. Straight up enough for you?

    SuraShine
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    I think a lot of those esoteric questions are asked by monks of supposedly wiser monks. Whether the answer is a valid piece of wisdom is a different matter, it certainly doesn’t sound like most Lay people would take anything from a question like that.

    Also there is the matter of proliferation, of not going so deeply into the world of ideas that you can’t see the forest for the trees anymore. Not all questions are equal or lead to the truth, and it is the teachers responsibility to give an answer that brings you back to the path.

    There is a famous story about a man who became a monk and who was only allowed to ask one question every ten years. Now that is maybe a bit extreme as a way to limit the proliferation of ideas, but it would teach certain skills, such as a sharp perception and a tendency to answer questions for yourself. Though it might also mean that some people contemplate the wrong questions in vain for a long time…

    opiumpoetry
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited July 14

    The Buddha spoke to and taught all intellects. From the simplest to the most brilliant.
    As @federica said, find the teachings aimed at yours and get stuck in! =)
    For example, at the monastery I attend, one of the nuns recently relocated to Sydney to be close to Ajahn Sujato (who retranslated the tipataka for SuttaCentral) as she is loves studying the Suttas and wanted to be near like minded people.
    She wasn’t getting that at Newbury

  • opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

    @federica said:
    Takes all sorts to make a world.

    True, of course a Buddhist would tell you to meditate for a few hours every day on the fact that the whole world is an illusion and so are you. On a related note, meditation is total self-absorbed egoism. Every hour you spend meditating is an hour you DON'T spend on helping the poor, the sick and the weak.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @opiumpoetry said:

    @federica said:
    Takes all sorts to make a world.

    True, of course a Buddhist would tell you to meditate for a few hours every day on the fact that the whole world is an illusion and so are you. On a related note, meditation is total self-absorbed egoism. Every hour you spend meditating is an hour you DON'T spend on helping the poor, the sick and the weak.

    Oh no! Here we go…

  • opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

    @Bunks said:
    The Buddha spoke to and taught all intellects. From the simplest to the most brilliant.

    OK, then point to a sutra that teaches the basics in the form of a beautiful story. The closest I know of is the Gandavyuha. I will say that as a reader and a poet, the Gandavyuha is very poor as literature. Not as bad as the Dhammapada, but still bad. Could it be that India just didn't have storytellers on a par with the writers of the Bible or the Norse Sagas?

  • opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

    @Bunks said:

    True, of course a Buddhist would tell you to meditate for a few hours every day on the fact that the whole world is an illusion and so are you. On a related note, meditation is total self-absorbed egoism. Every hour you spend meditating is an hour you DON'T spend on helping the poor, the sick and the weak.

    Oh no! Here we go…

    Well, I read that Tibetan lamas are the most fearful of death and the most selfish of different monastic communities, according to a Newsweek article. I guess meditating on why you should be unselfish is not the same as actually going out and raising money for the poor and running food pantries.

  • 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

    So from that, we can gather that you don't meditate, but you're out providing support on the streets and in the soup kitchens? The two are not mutually exclusive. As one great sage replied when asked when he meditates, "When am I NOT meditating...?!"

    lobsterJeffrey
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    @opiumpoetry said:
    Well, I read that Tibetan lamas are the most fearful of death and the most selfish of different monastic communities, according to a Newsweek article. I guess meditating on why you should be unselfish is not the same as actually going out and raising money for the poor and running food pantries.

    Different Buddhist organisations are variously involved with caring for the needy. Buddhist monks are usually dependent on the gifts of others so they could be said to be needy themselves.

    But I’ve always liked the example set by the Zen Peacemakers, who do a lot for the poor.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Why does Buddhism waste so much time on esoteric philosophical speculation?

    Good question.
    I won't be answering as I am about to have some soup. Then I will be wasting my time.

    Yours in Bad Buddhism
    CS. Lobster :p

    federica
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited July 14

    It could be simply said that Buddha taught about the mind. And as we receive a teaching about the mind the method is to formulate questions to ask of whomever is giving us teachings. To clarify the understanding of the mind.

    So in that line of thinking I think it's a good question to ask "what is the use of the concept of non-duality?"

    I think a lot could be said (by my teacher) about that and I would be curious what she would say. A lot of written materials may be individual questions someone had. And they might not be comparable to the Qaran or Bible.

    "Are the images or replicas (pratibimba) which are the object (gocara) of meditative concentration (samadhi) different/separate (bhinna) from the contemplating mind (*citta) or not."

    That's a quite different question from the usual fare in the Bible. But nonetheless it was probably someone's question in response to the teaching of their teacher. Asking them for clarity. I think that 'Non-duality' is a bit of a "very much in the head/thinking" sort of topic. But would you have it that such questions would be excluded entirely from consideration by students and teachers?

    lobster
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    Why can't Buddhists just say "The Buddha loves everyone and wants all people to love and help each other?" Is that so hard?

    I don’t think that was what the Buddha was trying to achieve. He was trying to take those disciples in whom he saw potential, and take them to the next level.

    lobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    "When am I NOT meditating...?!"

    Ah ha! If we know how to meditate, then we gets to Love Everything and do good. That is my kinda story. Why it stirs my soul … not that I have one anymore …

    Now what is the story of the next level that @Kerome mentions? Might it be the end of story telling?

    meanwhile … once upon a time …
    https://www.thebuddhistsociety.org/page/previous-lives-jataka-stories

    Bunks
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    @opiumpoetry said:
    Here is a question the Buddha was once asked: "Are the images or replicas (pratibimba) which are the object (gocara) of meditative concentration (samadhi) different/separate (bhinna) from the contemplating mind (*citta) or not." I mean, who gives a rat's ass? If you see a homeless person, are you going to lecture him on the merits of duality v. non-duality? Most people don't even know what terms like these mean.

    I don't think I've heard of Buddhists lecturing the homeless instead of helping in some way. Now if the homeless were to ask, that would be another matter, no?

    It's stuff like this that makes Buddhist sutras unreadable, unlike the Bible or Koran, which are just straight-up stories that anyone can follow. Why can't Buddhists just say "The Buddha loves everyone and wants all people to love and help each other?" Is that so hard?

    Because the Buddha didn't want people to cultivate a greater sense of compassion because they are told they should or because they could suffer immeasurable agony if they don't. He wants us to see for ourselves but without clinging to our views.

    Plus, there are many stories in the teachings, lol. Almost every sutta, sutra and discourse has a story so we can take it in context.

    Did you have a specific teaching you could use to help us understand your objection?

    lobsterShoshin1
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 15

    Thanks @David Thanks @person <3

    Buddhists have a plan! I knew it! =)

    • in the initial stages be kind to ourselves, so that our impediments are not interfering with our effective capacity to be of service to the whirled world.
    • Go mahayana. Feed them lambs …

    I'll join. B)

    BunksJeroen
  • opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

    @David said:
    Because the Buddha didn't want people to cultivate a greater sense of compassion because they are told they should or because they could suffer immeasurable agony if they don't. He wants us to see for ourselves but without clinging to our views.

    Plus, there are many stories in the teachings, lol. Almost every sutta, sutra and discourse has a story so we can take it in context.

    Did you have a specific teaching you could use to help us understand your objection?

    My objection is the philosophical complexity of Buddhism. For instance, the Heart Sutra states "Here then,
    Form is no other than emptiness,
    Emptiness no other than form.
    Form is only emptiness,
    Emptiness only form."

    "So, in emptiness, no form,
    No feeling, thought, or choice,
    Nor is there consciousness.
    No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body,
    mind;
    No colour, sound, smell, taste,
    touch,
    Or what the mind takes hold of,
    Nor even act of sensing.

    No ignorance or end of it,
    Nor all that comes of ignorance;
    No withering, no death,
    No end of them.

    Nor is there pain, or cause of pain,
    Or cease in pain, or noble path
    To lead from pain;
    Not even wisdom to attain!
    Attainment too is emptiness."

    This is all mumbo-jumbo bullshit. I would never become a Christian, but the simple message "Jesus loves you" is certainly more appealing to most of humanity than the above. But then perhaps Buddhism was never meant to be a mass religion? If so, then Buddhism was irrevocably flawed from the get-go.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran
    edited July 29

    @opiumpoetry said:

    @David said:
    Because the Buddha didn't want people to cultivate a greater sense of compassion because they are told they should or because they could suffer immeasurable agony if they don't. He wants us to see for ourselves but without clinging to our views.

    Plus, there are many stories in the teachings, lol. Almost every sutta, sutra and discourse has a story so we can take it in context.

    Did you have a specific teaching you could use to help us understand your objection?

    My objection is the philosophical complexity of Buddhism. For instance, the Heart Sutra states "Here then,
    Form is no other than emptiness,
    Emptiness no other than form.
    Form is only emptiness,
    Emptiness only form."

    "So, in emptiness, no form,
    No feeling, thought, or choice,
    Nor is there consciousness.
    No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body,
    mind;
    No colour, sound, smell, taste,
    touch,
    Or what the mind takes hold of,
    Nor even act of sensing.

    No ignorance or end of it,
    Nor all that comes of ignorance;
    No withering, no death,
    No end of them.

    Nor is there pain, or cause of pain,
    Or cease in pain, or noble path
    To lead from pain;
    Not even wisdom to attain!
    Attainment too is emptiness."

    This is all mumbo-jumbo bullshit. I would never become a Christian, but the simple message "Jesus loves you" is certainly more appealing to most of humanity than the above. But then perhaps Buddhism was never meant to be a mass religion? If so, then Buddhism was irrevocably flawed from the get-go.

    It's only mumbo-jumbo BS if you don't understand it. 😋
    But seriously, if you don't like all the philosophy, that's fine, just put it to one side.
    Just maintain a simple practice, and see where it leads.
    It could also be that Buddhism isn't for you. But that's fine too. "No worries", as they say down-under.

    lobsterDavid
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    It's all fingers pointing to the moon. You don't like the shape and size of one finger, there's always another than will be more to your liking and still point the way.

    David
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited July 30

    @opiumpoetry said:

    @David said:
    Because the Buddha didn't want people to cultivate a greater sense of compassion because they are told they should or because they could suffer immeasurable agony if they don't. He wants us to see for ourselves but without clinging to our views.

    Plus, there are many stories in the teachings, lol. Almost every sutta, sutra and discourse has a story so we can take it in context.

    Did you have a specific teaching you could use to help us understand your objection?

    My objection is the philosophical complexity of Buddhism. For instance, the Heart Sutra states "Here then,
    Form is no other than emptiness,
    Emptiness no other than form.
    Form is only emptiness,
    Emptiness only form."

    "So, in emptiness, no form,
    No feeling, thought, or choice,
    Nor is there consciousness.
    No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body,
    mind;
    No colour, sound, smell, taste,
    touch,
    Or what the mind takes hold of,
    Nor even act of sensing.

    No ignorance or end of it,
    Nor all that comes of ignorance;
    No withering, no death,
    No end of them.

    Nor is there pain, or cause of pain,
    Or cease in pain, or noble path
    To lead from pain;
    Not even wisdom to attain!
    Attainment too is emptiness."

    This is all mumbo-jumbo bullshit. I would never become a Christian, but the simple message "Jesus loves you" is certainly more appealing to most of humanity than the above. But then perhaps Buddhism was never meant to be a mass religion? If so, then Buddhism was irrevocably flawed from the get-go.

    Well geez... First you say your objection is the philosophical complexity of Buddhism and then the example you use you call mumbo-jumbo. Yes, Buddhism does seem a little more cerebral compared to some and there is no foul if that is not up your alley. Where the foul comes into play is when we dismiss as nonsense that which we admittedly do not understand.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    But then perhaps Buddhism was never meant to be a mass religion? If so, then Buddhism was irrevocably flawed from the get-go.

    It was designed to overcome Mass, mess and the revocable flaw of the go-getters …

    I'll join the perhaps buddhism …

  • opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

    @David said:
    Well geez... First you say your objection is the philosophical complexity of Buddhism and then the example you use you call mumbo-jumbo. Yes, Buddhism does seem a little more cerebral compared to some and there is no foul if that is not up your alley. Where the foul comes into play is when we dismiss as nonsense that which we admittedly do not understand.
    I understand what the Buddhas was trying to say. I just don't see how it has any relevance to most people's everyday lives and their problems. Perhaps we need more scripture on everyday matters and less stuff about ultimate truth, which is neither here nor there for most people.

  • opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

    @DairyLama said:
    It's only mumbo-jumbo BS if you don't understand it. 😋
    But seriously, if you don't like all the philosophy, that's fine, just put it to one side.
    Just maintain a simple practice, and see where it leads.
    It could also be that Buddhism isn't for you. But that's fine too. "No worries", as they say down-under.

    Well, if someone asks me for a suggestion on a short sutra they can read to get to know Buddhism, and I tell them the Heart Sutra (abbreviated), I'm sure they'll read it and tell me that Buddhism ain't for them. Do you see my point? Even the Dalai Lama admitted that the sutras are more hindrance than help in spreading the faith.

    DairyLama
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @opiumpoetry said:

    @DairyLama said:
    It's only mumbo-jumbo BS if you don't understand it. 😋
    But seriously, if you don't like all the philosophy, that's fine, just put it to one side.
    Just maintain a simple practice, and see where it leads.
    It could also be that Buddhism isn't for you. But that's fine too. "No worries", as they say down-under.

    Well, if someone asks me for a suggestion on a short sutra they can read to get to know Buddhism, and I tell them the Heart Sutra (abbreviated), I'm sure they'll read it and tell me that Buddhism ain't for them. Do you see my point? Even the Dalai Lama admitted that the sutras are more hindrance than help in spreading the faith.

    Sure, I wouldn't start somebody off with the Heart Sutra. Some Dhammapada verses would probably be more sensible.
    The problem is that Buddhism isn't one thing, it's actually a large collection of diverse schools. That tends to be a feature of the Dharmic traditions, lots of plurality and diversity.

    lobsterDavid
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran
    edited July 30

    @opiumpoetry said:
    I would never become a Christian, but the simple message "Jesus loves you" is certainly more appealing to most of humanity than the above. But then perhaps Buddhism was never meant to be a mass religion? If so, then Buddhism was irrevocably flawed from the get-go.

    Something I read not long ago in the teachings of Adyashanti was that, all our suffering comes from how the mind perceives the world, and you should stop identifying with your thoughts. He was a Zen monk for about twenty years, although he says his teaching is not now aligned with any tradition, and I think you can see that in his approach. I think it’s a simple message which works well for Zen and for Adya.

    It’s a more modern approach then to get involved in the minutiae of philosophical approaches. I think for many schools in Buddhism you could formulate a simple approach — and those in charge undoubtedly do — but when you approach Buddhism as a whole it is easy to get lost, and if you’re unlucky you end up with a longtime enthusiast who happens to think the sutra’s are the best way to approach the teachings.

    I think there are modern teachers who have a good insight into what the Buddha was trying to achieve, who have spent many years examining the sutra’s so that you don’t have to.

    DavidBunks
  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran
    edited July 30

    @opiumpoetry said:

    @David said:
    Well geez... First you say your objection is the philosophical complexity of Buddhism and then the example you use you call mumbo-jumbo. Yes, Buddhism does seem a little more cerebral compared to some and there is no foul if that is not up your alley. Where the foul comes into play is when we dismiss as nonsense that which we admittedly do not understand.

    I understand what the Buddhas was trying to say. I just don't see how it has any relevance to most people's everyday lives and their problems. Perhaps we need more scripture on everyday matters and less stuff about ultimate truth, which is neither here nor there for most people.

    That sutra may not have been a good example as not many have the Heart Sutra as an introduction to Buddhism. I do see your point, however, Buddhist teachings have a few different styles depending on the type of student.

    If you look to the many suttas, sutras and discourses of Buddhism you will find many that fit the bill. There are many, many teachings on every day life because every day living is what we do.

    Plus, if the suttas are not agreeable, there are many teachers that know them well enough to explain it in every day terms (to echo @Kerome and @DairyLama)

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    For someone new to Buddhism I wouldn't recommend sutras but rather (and how I started) I would recommend for them going to a bookstore and browsing the eastern philosophy or religion section of Buddhist books and pick one out. Those are written to be read by a modern person.

    Bunkslobster
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited July 30

    @Jeffrey said:
    For someone new to Buddhism I wouldn't recommend sutras but rather (and how I started) I would recommend for them going to a bookstore and browsing the eastern philosophy or religion section of Buddhist books and pick one out. Those are written to be read by a modern person.

    I'd recommend hanging out at a temple or meditation group and just joining in meditation and chanting first, then start reading some things. The experience is what hooked me far before the works of Ajahn Chah or the middle length discourses of the Pali Canon.

    Bunks
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    For someone new to Buddhism I wouldn't recommend sutras but rather (and how I started) I would recommend for them going to a bookstore and browsing the eastern philosophy or religion section of Buddhist books and pick one out. Those are written to be read by a modern person.

    I have to say I started reading sutra anthologies only after I had been interested in Buddhism for a number of years, and had read quite a few other Buddhist books, and it was sutra’s that ultimately made me decide to start reading spiritual teachers of other traditions again.

    Bunksopiumpoetry
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Jason said:

    @Jeffrey said:
    For someone new to Buddhism I wouldn't recommend sutras but rather (and how I started) I would recommend for them going to a bookstore and browsing the eastern philosophy or religion section of Buddhist books and pick one out. Those are written to be read by a modern person.

    I'd recommend hanging out at a temple or meditation group and just joining in meditation and chanting first, then start reading some things. The experience is what hooked me far before the works of Ajahn Chah or the middle length discourses of the Pali Canon.

    That's a good idea, though not everyone is in a position to do that?

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Jeffrey said:
    For someone new to Buddhism I wouldn't recommend sutras but rather (and how I started) I would recommend for them going to a bookstore and browsing the eastern philosophy or religion section of Buddhist books and pick one out. Those are written to be read by a modern person.

    Yes, makes sense. Though eventually it's good to look at the source material (suttas and sutras), rather than relying on second-hand accounts and interpretations.

  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    @DairyLama said:

    @Jeffrey said:
    For someone new to Buddhism I wouldn't recommend sutras but rather (and how I started) I would recommend for them going to a bookstore and browsing the eastern philosophy or religion section of Buddhist books and pick one out. Those are written to be read by a modern person.

    Yes, makes sense. Though eventually it's good to look at the source material (suttas and sutras), rather than relying on second-hand accounts and interpretations.

    I’m not sure if I would go along with that. The most progress I have made on the theory of Buddhism has come from the retreat lectures of Thich Nhat Hanh on YouTube and reading the Complete Teachings of Ajahn Chah.

    Reading the sutra’s, which I did afterwards, introduced a whole lot of advanced material from the monk’s path which just ended up confusing me and made me wonder about whether I actually wanted the ultimate goals of the path, which seemed very extreme to me.

    opiumpoetry
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    @DairyLama said:

    @Jeffrey said:
    For someone new to Buddhism I wouldn't recommend sutras but rather (and how I started) I would recommend for them going to a bookstore and browsing the eastern philosophy or religion section of Buddhist books and pick one out. Those are written to be read by a modern person.

    Yes, makes sense. Though eventually it's good to look at the source material (suttas and sutras), rather than relying on second-hand accounts and interpretations.

    I’m not sure if I would go along with that. The most progress I have made on the theory of Buddhism has come from the retreat lectures of Thich Nhat Hanh on YouTube and reading the Complete Teachings of Ajahn Chah.

    Reading the sutra’s, which I did afterwards, introduced a whole lot of advanced material from the monk’s path which just ended up confusing me and made me wonder about whether I actually wanted the ultimate goals of the path, which seemed very extreme to me.

    OK. I found Ajahn Chah's style quite difficult to follow, a bit too "Zen" for me. TNH's stuff is very accessible though - dare I say a bit too accessible at times?

  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran
    edited July 31

    @DairyLama said:
    OK. I found Ajahn Chah's style quite difficult to follow, a bit too "Zen" for me. TNH's stuff is very accessible though - dare I say a bit too accessible at times?

    Right, certainly about TNH. He also brings chunks of Vietnamese Thien knowledge in, which is not the same as say Japanese zen. It’s a bit different but still throws light on what is going on inside.

    But that’s why I say it is good to keep searching through modern teachers, they all have different styles and backgrounds which can contribute to your insight and your view. You never know when you’ll come across something that will light your particular fire. Of course its good to have favourites to keep coming back to, that’s great and will allow for deepening knowledge.

    But the sutra’s I think were intended for a different style of teaching which certainly doesn’t suit me as well. With just two exceptions — the Prince Abhaya Sutra on right speech, and the Kalama Sutra on free inquiry — I can’t think of any others which have stayed in my mind for extended periods. And I’ve read three different anthologies in book form, and a lot of stuff off Access To Insight and other sutra repositories.

    Anyway I have decided to stick with modern teachers for the foreseeable future.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    @DairyLama said:
    OK. I found Ajahn Chah's style quite difficult to follow, a bit too "Zen" for me. TNH's stuff is very accessible though - dare I say a bit too accessible at times?

    Right, certainly about TNH. He also brings chunks of Vietnamese Thien knowledge in, which is not the same as say Japanese zen. It’s a bit different but still throws light on what is going on inside.

    But that’s why I say it is good to keep searching through modern teachers, they all have different styles and backgrounds which can contribute to your insight and your view. You never know when you’ll come across something that will light your particular fire. Of course its good to have favourites to keep coming back to, that’s great and will allow for deepening knowledge.

    But the sutra’s I think were intended for a different style of teaching which certainly doesn’t suit me as well. With just two exceptions — the Prince Abhaya Sutra on right speech, and the Kalama Sutra on free inquiry — I can’t think of any others which have stayed in my mind for extended periods. And I’ve read three different anthologies in book form, and a lot of stuff off Access To Insight and other sutra repositories.

    Anyway I have decided to stick with modern teachers for the foreseeable future.

    Yes, it's interesting to explore a range of teachers, and traditions. Though too much of this makes my brain hurt, because they all say different things. 😋

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @DairyLama said:

    @Jason said:

    @Jeffrey said:
    For someone new to Buddhism I wouldn't recommend sutras but rather (and how I started) I would recommend for them going to a bookstore and browsing the eastern philosophy or religion section of Buddhist books and pick one out. Those are written to be read by a modern person.

    I'd recommend hanging out at a temple or meditation group and just joining in meditation and chanting first, then start reading some things. The experience is what hooked me far before the works of Ajahn Chah or the middle length discourses of the Pali Canon.

    That's a good idea, though not everyone is in a position to do that?

    They can always do this online as well. Many groups stream or at least record meetings and services, there are countless guided meditations on youtube, and many monks record their talks and guided meditations. It's not so hard find something to begin with, I think.

  • DavidDavid A human residing in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Ancestral territory of the Erie, Haudenosaunee, Huron-Wendat, Mississauga and Neutral First Nations Veteran

    Ease of information sharing and the new plague has really ramped up Sangha building online. Everyone is Zooming.

    Still... I like this place.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Tee Hee!

    The first manifestation of the Maitreya could be Covid Ajita (the smallest and most wrathful Buddha ever)
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maitreya

    Teachings so far seem to be:

    • Suffering is contagious
    • Ignorance won't protect you
    • Be kind before it is too late

    OM MANI PEME COVID MAITREYA

    here to help

    opiumpoetry
  • opiumpoetryopiumpoetry Delaware, Ohio, USA Explorer

    @DairyLama said:

    @opiumpoetry said:

    @DairyLama said:

    Sure, I wouldn't start somebody off with the Heart Sutra. Some Dhammapada verses would probably be more sensible.
    The problem is that Buddhism isn't one thing, it's actually a large collection of diverse schools. That tends to be a feature of the Dharmic traditions, lots of plurality and diversity.

    I've read the Dhammapada. I wouldn't punish anyone by suggesting they read that. One of the million boring books that Bukowski complained about.

  • Bukowski complained about the Dhammapada?!

  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    @DairyLama said:
    Yes, it's interesting to explore a range of teachers, and traditions. Though too much of this makes my brain hurt, because they all say different things. 😋

    Agreed. I tend to sift through teachers until I find one I like, and then stick with them exclusively for a while.

    Bunks
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @コチシカ said:
    Bukowski complained about the Dhammapada?!

    He complained about a lot of things.

  • @opiumpoetry said:
    … stuff like this that makes Buddhist sutras unreadable, unlike the Bible or Koran, which are just straight-up stories that anyone can follow. Why can't Buddhists just say "The Buddha loves everyone and wants all people to love and help each other?" Is that so hard?

    Straight up? Not really.
    The bible and koran have deeper levels of meaning beyond superficial examination. It is a bit like saying all physics is relative, why the esoteric e=mc2. Religion is equally quantum layered, dependent on perspective …

    Bunks
  • Buddhism does not waste so much time on esoteric philosophical speculation.
    However some self-proclaimed Buddhist scholars and "eminent leader" often seem to do just that. Buddhism does not require one be esoteric. Buddhism asks that one apply the tenets or concepts to one's daily life to the best of one's ability. One can discuss at length the process, concepts and theories of an apple falling from a tree. However, the apple does not care. It simply falls.
    Theory and concepts are important and are not to be ignored, but are meaningless without action/application.

    Peace to all

    lobster
  • JeroenJeroen Do it with a smile Netherlands Veteran

    The Pali canon is said to contain 80,000 sutra’s, but you don’t have to take them all on board. There are traditions which emphasise just a handful. If you don’t like the esoteric aspects, you could follow something like secular Buddhism, and these things are filtered out for you.

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