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Author Topic: essence of Buddhism  (Read 301 times)

dharma bum

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essence of Buddhism
« on: May 17, 2017, 04:49:13 AM »
What is the essence of Buddhism? What makes one a Buddhist?

I've been reading stuff on wikipedia. There appears to be disagreement over every possible thing in the doctrine. It makes me wonder if the dhamma preached by the Buddha was in fact much simpler than is generally believed.
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Nicky

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2017, 12:36:27 PM »
The Pali scriptures specifically define the 'essence' or 'heartwood' ('sārā') of Buddhism as 'liberation of mind' (ceto vimutti).

Therefore, those mundane teachings about kamma, rebirth, reincarnation, etc, which have the purpose to promote only morality are not the essence of Buddhism.

Quote
kuppā cetovimutti—etadatthamidaṃ, bhikkhave, brahmacariyaṃ, etaṃ sāraṃ etaṃ pariyosānan

It is this unshakeable deliverance of mind that is the goal of this holy life, its heartwood and its end. MN 29
[/quote]

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vimuttisārā sabbe dhammā

All dhamma practises have liberation is their core/heartwood. AN 10.58

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Sara: essence; the pith of a tree; the choicest part; essential; excellent; strong

dharma bum

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2017, 03:31:42 PM »
Nicky, that is close to my own theory of the 4 noble truths as being the complete teaching. i have found that there is not much contention over the 4 noble truths. everybody seems to be in agreement as to what they mean regardless of their school of buddhism or country/culture.
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dharma bum

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2017, 04:08:11 PM »
Quote
everybody seems to be in agreement as to what they mean regardless of their school of buddhism or country/culture.

on second thought, this might not be accurate when you get to the 4th truth. but i still think that intuitively, we know what is right and wrong. anything that leads to clinging or aversion is not right. we are considerably better at using our intuition than trying to *define* using words the distinction between right and wrong.

what i'm trying to say is that we need to rely more on our intuition than try to parse the exact meaning in scriptures.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2017, 04:19:56 PM by dharma bum »
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Matthew

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2017, 07:03:57 PM »
The Pali scriptures specifically define the 'essence' or 'heartwood' ('sārā') of Buddhism as 'liberation of mind' (ceto vimutti).

Absolutely agree. Also the Buddha's reported dying words are coherent with this, "Strive diligently for your own liberation".

Which raises in my mind a conversation with Tulku Ringu Rinpoche during which I asked him what he considered the most important teaching of the Buddha. His reply was "Oh that's an easy one. You can change yourself".

The ultimate goal, liberation of mind, involves some work - striving diligently.

Even if the practitioner is not mindful of this absolute goal but has more mundane/relative goals in mind (e.g. being more at peace, relieving anxiety) the knowledge that "you can change yourself" is a big help. Goals are reached by striving for them, knowing they can be reached.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Frightful

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2017, 08:26:11 PM »
So is the "unliberated mind" trying to convince us that we cannot change ourselves?  (More crucially, was the salient part of Rinpoche's quotation the fact that *we* are the ones providing agency for our own change versus and outside influence?)

Are all minds that develop within humans pan-globally shackled in such chains?  Given that observing/observant homo sapiens is surrounded by change, urban to rural, organic to inorganic, what is the origin within the mind of this notion of one's inherent resistance to change or fundamental immutability?   A million or more texts, books, websites, therapy programs, etc. all hammering away at this resistance to change.....the vast majority, unsuccessfully.

I don't know if it would be fair to say that depression is the opposite of enlightenment, but surely depression is largely interwoven with a conviction that "I cannot change...."   In this context, the notion that I *can* change myself has come somewhat obliquely, apparently through meditation.  The fact that self-denigration is not as bad as in earlier days is indirect evidence of some change in myself having occurred.

BeHereNow

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2017, 10:25:41 PM »
I would say the "unliberated mind" is the belief that there is something permanent that is "you".  Once you are able to witness all that you are - your thoughts, feelings, emotions, body sensations - including those that make up "depression", and realize that these phenomena are constantly changing, you are free, even when depression (or any other mind-body state) comes along.

Even with all the hatred and anger and lethargy and whatever else arises, there is something bigger that is always there, always able to observe, always at peace.  This is the part of you that doesn't need to change, and the more we can live from that place, the more we are liberated.
"You are the Sky.  Everything else is just the weather." - Pema Chodron

stillpointdancer

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2017, 11:08:44 AM »
I would say the essence is quite simple. If we sit as the Buddha sat, determined to see the reality of things for ourselves, using the kinds of meditation techniques he used, then we will see for ourselves, and not have to rely on the words of others. Everything else the Buddha said was to help bring this about more easily. Which is why he famously changed his teaching for each individual, to give help where they most needed it.

The only thing I would add is that the processes he talked about bring about real changes in our brains, which allow insight to happen.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

dharma bum

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2017, 07:16:41 PM »
not disagreeing with anybody here, but the natural question is what does liberation of the mind mean? imo, the answer is suffering. imo, the essence of buddhism is the liberation of the mind from suffering/dukkha. so, to be a buddhist it is sufficient to believe in the 4 noble truths.

things like dependent origination, shunyata, rebirth are superfluous.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 07:21:59 PM by dharma bum »
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Matthew

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2017, 01:54:30 PM »
So is the "unliberated mind" trying to convince us that we cannot change ourselves?  (More crucially, was the salient part of Rinpoche's quotation the fact that *we* are the ones providing agency for our own change versus and outside influence?)

The unliberated mind will resist change.

Are all minds that develop within humans pan-globally shackled in such chains?  Given that observing/observant homo sapiens is surrounded by change, urban to rural, organic to inorganic, what is the origin within the mind of this notion of one's inherent resistance to change or fundamental immutability?   A million or more texts, books, websites, therapy programs, etc. all hammering away at this resistance to change.....the vast majority, unsuccessfully.

Yes. The origin of resistance to change is habit.

I don't know if it would be fair to say that depression is the opposite of enlightenment, but surely depression is largely interwoven with a conviction that "I cannot change...."   In this context, the notion that I *can* change myself has come somewhat obliquely, apparently through meditation.  The fact that self-denigration is not as bad as in earlier days is indirect evidence of some change in myself having occurred.

That is a useful progress. You can gain some confidence in the teachings from seeing such change result from right effort.

~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Nicky

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2017, 09:18:13 PM »
Nicky, that is close to my own theory of the 4 noble truths as being the complete teaching. i have found that there is not much contention over the 4 noble truths. everybody seems to be in agreement as to what they mean regardless of their school of buddhism or country/culture.

True. However, there are contentions over the interpretation of the 4 noble truths.

The four noble truths are also about 'liberation', which is why they are also the heart of Buddhism.

Quote
At one time the Blessed One was staying at Kosambii in Simsapaa Grove. Then the Blessed One, taking a few Simsapaa leaves in his hand, said to the monks: "What do you think, monks? Which are the more numerous, the few leaves I have here in my hand, or those up in the trees of the grove?"

"Lord, the Blessed One is holding only a few leaves: those up in the trees are far more numerous."

"In the same way, monks, there are many more things that I have found out, but not revealed to you. What I have revealed to you is only a little. And why, monks, have I not revealed it?

"Because, monks, it is not related to the goal, it is not fundamental to the holy life, does not conduce to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, tranquillity, higher knowledge, enlightenment or Nibbaana. That is why I have not revealed it. And what, monks, have I revealed?

"What I have revealed is: 'This is Suffering, this is the Arising of Suffering, this is the Cessation of Suffering, and this is the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering.' And why, monks, have I revealed it?

"Because this is related to the goal, fundamental to the holy life, conduces to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, tranquillity, higher knowledge, enlightenment and Nibbaana, therefore I have revealed it.

"Therefore, monks, your task is to learn: 'This is Suffering, this is the Arising of Suffering, this is the Cessation of Suffering, this is the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering.' That is your task."

Simsapa Sutta


 :)





Nicky

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2017, 09:49:07 PM »
not disagreeing with anybody here, but the natural question is what does liberation of the mind mean? imo, the answer is suffering. imo, the essence of buddhism is the liberation of the mind from suffering/dukkha. so, to be a buddhist it is sufficient to believe in the 4 noble truths.

Correct. Liberation of mind is the 3rd noble truth, which includes the word 'liberation' within it.

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The Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering is this: It is the complete cessation of that very craving, giving it up, relinquishing it, liberation from it and detaching from it.

SN 56.11

~~~

things like dependent origination, shunyata, rebirth are superfluous.

Rebirth is superfluous, impure & bondage. The purpose of rebirth is to make people moral (but not liberated). This is explained in the Maha-Cattarisaka Sutta:

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Right view, I tell you, is of two sorts: There is right view with effluents [impurities], siding with merit [morality], resulting in acquisitions [of attachment & becoming]; there is right view that is noble, without effluents, transcendent (lokuttara), a factor of the path.

There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the other worlds. There are spontaneously reborn beings... This is the right view with effluents, siding with merit, resulting in acquisitions.

Maha-Cattarisaka Sutta

Dependent origination is generally misinterpreted/misunderstood/wrongly explained in cultural Buddhism.

Dependent origination, when correctly understood, & shunyata are also the essence of Buddhism. Dependent origination is merely a more detailed explanation of the four noble truths and sunnata is merely a more definitive statement about the liberation of mind via non-attachment of the four noble truths.

The four noble truths, the three characteristics, dependent origination & sunnata are all essentially the same teaching & are all the essence of Buddhism. Each is 'lokuttara', which means 'transcendent, supramundane or beyond the world'. 

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Now this has been said by the Blessed One: “One who sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma; one who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination.” And these five aggregates affected by clinging are dependently arisen. The desire, indulgence, inclination, and holding based on these five aggregates affected by clinging is the origin of suffering. The removal of desire and lust, the abandonment of desire and lust for these five aggregates affected by clinging is the cessation of suffering.’

Maha-Hatthipadopama Sutta

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And what is the emptiness liberation of mind (suññatā cetovimutti)? There is the case where a monk, having gone into the wilderness, to the root of a tree, or into an empty dwelling, considers this: 'This is empty of self or of anything pertaining to self. This is called the emptiness liberation of mind.... This unshakeable liberation of mind is empty of lust, empty of hatred, empty of delusion.

Mahavedalla Sutta

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Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent (lokuttara), connected with emptiness (sunnata) — are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.' That's how you should train yourselves."

Ani Sutta

 :)

stillpointdancer

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2017, 11:49:43 AM »
I don't know whether lokuttara should be translated as 'beyond worldly things' or 'beyond what we think worldly things are'. The latter seems more down to earth and achievable, using insight. We then see that it is ourselves who are limited, in that we cannot see things as they are, not that there is a transcendent reality 'out there' to be discovered.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Nicky

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2017, 12:32:04 PM »
The word 'world' ('loka') is a synonym for 'suffering' (since the social world is created by ignorance & craving).

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The Blessed One said: "And what is the origination of the world? Dependent on the eye & forms there arises eye-consciousness. The meeting of the three is contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging. From clinging as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress & despair come into play. This is the origination of the world. SN 12.44
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it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the world, the origination of the world, the cessation of the world, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the world. AN 4.45

 :)

Laurent

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Re: essence of Buddhism
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2017, 11:22:02 PM »
Magnificent  :)
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