|A buddha is a supremely enlightened teacher. When Wisdom Quarterly refers to the Buddha, we mean the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, "Sage of the Shakya Clan."|
(The School of Life) But I don't like intellectual discussions of Buddhism! Say it in a way we can understand! Say it like the Buddha would say it! Okay, here's the story in brief from The School of Life: The Buddha's "philosophy" or Dharma teaches us that craving, which is rooted in ignorance and accompanied by aversion, is at the root of our suffering and restlessness - and that calm can be achieved through serenity (jhana) and insight (vipassana), systematic contemplation founded on a base of calm-collected-concentration. If this explanation is too easy or silly, try this:
|Meditation beats philosophizing.|
- [Theravada is the "Teaching of the first Elder Enlightened Disciples of the Buddha." It is the current expression most closely associated with the practice of early Buddhism. It should not be confounded with the pejorative Hinayana or "Lesser Vehicle" schools, like the Sarvastivada, all of which went extinct. Later Mahayana Buddhism tries to teach the same thing in a different way with invented sutras and lengthy "Perfection of Wisdom" (Prajna Paramita) literature, most pithily expressed in the beloved but rarely understood Heart Sutra, which is about anattā or "not-self" as ultimate wisdom but expressed as śūnyatā or "emptiness."]
|"What's science ever done for us?"|Now do that to your mind (WQ).
- [Anattā ("not-self," non-ego, impersonality) is the ultimate teaching that neither within the bodily-and-mental process of existence nor apart from these phenomena can there be found anything that -- in an ultimate sense -- can be regarded as a real self-existing ego or entity, soul or any other abiding essence. This is Buddhism's central doctrine. Without understanding it, real knowledge of Buddhism is impossible. It is the only specifically Buddhist doctrine, with which the entire structure of Buddhism stands. All other Buddhist doctrines might, more or less, be talked about in other philosophies or religions. But the doctrine of the impersonality of all things is clearly and unreservedly taught ONLY by buddhas...]
- What is ultimate reality Buddhism? It is "Truth that is true in the highest or ultimate sense" (para-mattha) as contrasted with "conventional truth" (vohāra-sacca), which is also called "commonly accepted truth" (the consensus reality, sammuti-sacca or Sanskrit samvrti-satya). The Buddha, in explaining his Dharma or doctrine that leads to enlightenment (awakening) and nirvana (the "end of all suffering"), sometimes used conventional language and sometimes a philosophical mode of expression in accordance with undeluded insight into reality. In that ultimate sense, existence is a mere process of physical and mental phenomena within which, or beyond which, no real ego-entity nor any abiding substance is to be found. So whenever the sutras speak of a person, or of the rebirth of a being, this must not be taken as being valid in an ultimate sense, but as a mere conventional mode of speech.]
- For example, “To regard the body as something of worth would be like taking frescoes to be real persons.” Or again, “As one would view a bubble, as one would view a mirage, so should the world be looked at.” (Dhammapada Verse 170.) “The world is like a dream” (Saṃyutta Nikāya, S III 141).
|The Buddha standing, fearless mudra (Nippon_newfie)|
- Saṃyutta Nikāya, S II 17. See Mrs. Rhys Davids trans., in F. L. Woodward, Kindred Sayings (London: Oxford University Press 1926), Vol. IV, p. 13.
- The first discourse of the Long Discourses (Dīgha Nikāya). See T. W. Rhys Davids, trans., Dialogues of the Buddha (London: Oxford University Press, 1901), Vol. I.
|"All things proceed from a cause, and I make that cause known and also its cessation."|
It is interesting to note from these descriptions that the various schools of idealism, which later appeared in the West, had their counterparts in the India of the Buddha, for example, subjective idealism (which holds that it is the “I” alone which exists, all the rest being a modification of my mind), objective idealism (which holds that all, including the “I,” are mere manifestations of the Absolute), or the absolute idealism of Hegel (which informs us that only the relation between the subject and object is real).
- Saṃyutta Nikāya, S IV 330f. Dhammacakkapavattana Sutra. See Lord Chalmers, trans. Further Dialogues of the Buddha (London: Oxford University Press 1926).
|"Suffering has an origin and a cessation."|
Addiction to self-mortification is merely the practical side of the speculations of idealism, in which the “self” is sublimated, with the natural consequence that the “self” must be liberated from matter, the “soul” must be freed from the bonds of the body. The passions of the body must be subdued even by force. Body becomes the eternal enemy of the spirit to be overcome by prayer, fasting, and other austerities.
(Askathor) Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" (Suite No. 1, Op. 46), Liepzig Orch.
|Samsara (the Wheel of Rebirth) is a long and painful round until enlightenment.|
Along with annihilationism the Buddha saw that every permanent thing is actually in flux and therefore impermanent.
The Buddha’s liberating realization came from seeing the insubstantiality in all things, understanding that "the world" is a process -- a progression of discrete, radically evanescent elements (kalapas and cittas), some physical, some metaphysical.
The Buddha's discovery was not an immediately apparent one because he had also to find a theoretical basis to preserve the vital necessity of virtue, ethics, and morality (sila). He was faced with the apparent contradiction of a moral law without a person on whom the law was binding, liberation with nobody to reach the goal of nirvana.
How he discovered the solution to this apparent problem will appear in the sequel. The shortest statement of the Buddha’s teaching is contained in a formula which has come to be regarded as the Buddhist credo succinctly expressing the Four Noble Truths:
“Whatsoever things proceed from a cause, the Tathāgata [the Buddha] has declared the cause thereof; he has also explained their cessation.”
This is the doctrine of the shraman. It declares, in other words, that the Buddha has discovered the elements and their causal connection and a method to suppress their active efficiency and secure their quiescence.
The Buddha claimed that the Dharma is a practical teaching: its objective is to guide the way of escape from the ever-revolving round of rebirth-and-death (saṃsāra) and which is considered a condition of degradation and suffering (dukkha).
This path of escape from suffering was meant primarily for human beings [and devas, so another title of the Buddha was "teacher of gods and men," shasta deva manusanam, which means "instructor of devas and human beings"]. More