Monday, May 27, 2013

Who will save the world, Cartman? (WTBT)

Ven. Walpola Rahula, What The Buddha Taught, edited by Wisdom Quarterly; South Park
Cartman becomes "The C**n" to save the world after its economic collapse (WATCH).
What the Buddha Taught and the World Today
Cartman has Tourettes (Comedy Central).
There are some who believe that Buddhism is so lofty and sublime a system that it cannot be practiced by ordinary men and women in this workaday world, as if one had to retire to a monastery or to some quiet place, in the hopes of becoming a "true" Buddhist.
This is a sad misconception, due evidently to a lack of understanding of what the Buddha taught. 
People run to such hasty conclusions as a result of their hearing, or casually reading, something about Buddhism written by someone who, not having understood the subject in all its aspects, gives only a lopsided or partial view of it. 
Tell it to the Church; they won't listen.
The Buddha’s teaching is meant not only for nuns and monks in monastic settings, but also for ordinary men and women living at home with families. The Noble Eightfold Path, which outlines a general Buddhist way of life, is meant of all without distinction of any kind.
The vast majority of people in the world cannot become monastics or retire into caves or even forests.

However noble and pure Buddhism might be, it would be useless to the majority of humankind if they could not follow it in their daily lives in the world we live in. But if one apprehends the spirit of Buddhism correctly (not only its letter but spirit), one can surely follow and practice it while living the life of an ordinary person.
There may be some who find it easier and more convenient to intensively practice Buddhism if they live in a remote place, cut off from the society of others. Others, to the contrary, may find that that kind of retirement dulls and depresses their whole being, physically and mentally, such that it may not therefore be conducive to the development of their spiritual and intellectual lives.
Sex, drugs, and rock n roll (South Park)
True "renunciation" does not mean running away physically from the world. Sāriputra, the chief male disciple of the Buddha, reckoned "foremost in wisdom," said that one person might live in a forest devoting him or herself to ascetic practices, but might be full of impure thoughts and "defilements" of heart and mind; another might live in a village or a town, practicing no particularly ascetic discipline, but her or his mind might be pure and freed of defiling influences.
Of these two, said Sāriputra, the one who lives a pure life in the village or town is definitely far superior to and greater than the one who lives in the forest [if only because of what must have already been accomplished not to need the seclusion] (M I (PTS), pp. 30-31).
The common belief that to follow the Buddha’s teaching one has to retire from life is a misconception. It is really an unconscious defense against practicing it. ["Well I would, but..."]
There are numerous references in Buddhist literature to men and women living ordinary family lives successfully practicing what the Buddha taught -- and they realize nirvāṇa. 
Vacchagotta the Wanderer, for example, once asked the Buddha the straightforward question of whether there were laymen and laywomen leading the family life who followed his teaching successfully and attained to high spiritual states.
The Buddha categorically stated that there were.

All the unskillfuness in the world does not force one into karma (action). We choose.
There were not one or two, not a hundred or two hundred, not even five hundred, but many more laymen and laywomen leading the household life who followed his teaching successfully and attained to high spiritual states (Ibid., pp. 490 ff).

It may be agreeable for certain people to live a retired life in a quiet place away from noise and disturbances. But it is certainly more praiseworthy and courageous to practice Buddhism living among our fellow beings, helping ourselves and being of service to them.

It may perhaps be useful in some cases for one to withdrawn or take a "retreat" into seclusion for a time in order to improve one's mind and character, as preliminary moral, spiritual, and intellectual training.

Oh that Sexual Harassment...Panda!
But this is to be strong enough to come out later and help others. If one lives all one's life in solitude, thinking only of his or her own happiness and "salvation" from rebirth and suffering, without caring fellow beings, this surely is not in keeping with the Buddha’s teaching, which is based on love (metta), compassion (karuna), and service to others or the greater good [seva].
One might now ask: If one can follow Buddhism while living the life of an ordinary layperson, why was the Sangha, the Monastic Order, established by the Buddha? 
The Order provides an opportunity for those who are willing to devote their lives not only to their own spiritual and intellectual development, but also to the service of others.
An ordinary layperson with a family cannot be expected to devote one's whole life to the service of others, whereas a monastic, freed of familial responsibilities and other worldly ties, is in position to devote this life "for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many" according to the Buddha’s advice.

That is how in the course of history, Buddhist monastic complexes became not only spiritual centers but also centers of learning and culture.

[What did the Buddha teach laypeople?]
The Sigāla Sutra (DN 31) shows with what great respect the layperson’s life, family, and social relations are regarded by the Buddha. More

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