What Buddhism Is Don’t you feel confused…. … by a self-proclaimed ‘divine messenger’ who urges you to embrace his creed. … by a faith healer who claims that his way is the only way to salvation. … by a religious group who warns you against the Devil and asking you to accept the authority of his scriptures.
How can we tell who and to what extent each is right? Free Inquiry Kalama Sutta - ‘Charter of Free Inquiry’ reflects the Buddhist spirit of thought and investigation. “ Yes, Kalamas, it is proper that you have doubt, that you have perplexity, for a doubt has arisen in a matter which is doubtful. Now, do not be led by reports, or tradition, or hearsay. Be not led by the authority of religious texts, nor by mere logic or inference, nor by considering appearances, nor by the delight in speculative opinions, nor by seeming possibilities, nor by the idea: ‘this is our teacher’.”
What can we learn from this advice? Some religious groups use slogans repeatedly until a person succumbs to those suggestions. Do not blindly believe a tradition or the sacred scriptures. The Buddha warned us against logic and opinions. The highest truth is beyond the ability of an untrained human mind to reason out logically and understand. Man is a hive of opinions. Unless he is open, he is a prisoner of his opinions. OK, OK!! Now leave me alone
How then do we know what to accept or to reject? The Buddha advised the Kalamas: “ But, Kalamas, when you yourself know what is bad, blameworthy and censured by the wise, abandon these things. When you yourself know these things are good, not blameworthy, but praised by the wise, accept and practise them.” Before doing something, ask ourselves: Is this a wholesome thing? When performed, does it bring happiness to ourselves as well as others in both the short run and long run?
How then do we know what to accept or to reject? The Buddha was open-minded about other religions. He advised us: “If you find truth in any religion, accept the truth.” The freedom of thought encouraged in Buddhism is unique in the history of religions.
The Practical Approach Buddhism and science both advocate free enquiry and freedom from authoritarian dogma. The Buddha discouraged the vain search after speculative issues which do not lead to the release of suffering. All irrelevant issues are completely cast aside.
Experience the Dhamma The fruits of the Dhamma can be experienced here and now. Anyone who practices the Path can attain happiness and peace. Nibbana is not reserved for Buddhists. It is open to everyone so long as he walks the right Path. I am now in Nibbana
Buddhism is beyond science Buddhism goes beyond science in its acceptance of truth. Buddhism accepts knowledge that comes through personal experiences and through mental culture. Buddhism alone says that the riddle of existence can be solved. Science is not concerned with the moral consequences: Buddhism is!!
Buddhism is beyond science Bertrand Russel, the great philosopher, said of Buddhism: “ It takes up where science cannot lead because of the limitations of the latter’s physical-instruments. Its conquests are those of the mind.” 1872-1970 Noble Prize for Literature in 1950
Self Reliance Do you realise that you make your destiny? The Buddha explained: Good deeds yield good fruits while evil deeds yield bad fruits. The Buddha showed us the Path – we work our way towards the release of suffering. The Buddha said that all our griefs, sorrows and anxieties spring from the imperfections of heart and mind. Since man is responsible for his own sorrow, it is within his power to put an end to it.
Self Reliance It is left to us to follow it to obtain purification. Effort is needed to eradicate the evil roots of hatred, anger and delusion that defile the mind . Hatred Anger Delusion
Self Reliance “ By oneself is one defiled, By oneself is one purified.” “ You yourself should walk the path The Buddha merely shows the way.”
Confidence No blind faith necessary to understand the Dhamma. The truths of the Dhamma can be tested and verified by personal experience Voltaire said “Faith is to believe in something which your reasons tell you cannot be true; for if your reason approved of it, there is no question of blind faith.” Confidence is the product of reason, knowledge and experience. When it is developed, confidence can never be blind. Voltaire
Confidence To the Buddhist, the Buddha is the greatest instructor of all time. In the Dhamma, there is nothing that is impractical or irrational. The Buddha practised what he taught; and he taught what he practised.
Come and See The Buddha always said “ ehi-passiko” , inviting you to “come and see” but not to come and believe. “ Accept my words only when you have examined them for yourselves; do not accept them simply because of the reverence you have for me. Those who only have faith in me and affection for me will not find the final freedom. But those who have faith in the truth and are determined on the path, they will find awakening.” -Majjhima Nikaya
Practise the Dhamma The learned man who does not practise the Dhamma, is like a colourful flower without scent. The Buddha said “He who sees the Dhamma, sees him.” Study Practise Realise
Practise the Dhamma Practising morality is the first stage on the Path to Purity. Wisdom is paramount; for purification arises from wisdom and insight. The Buddha never praised mere intellect. Buddhism contains an excellent moral code for monks and laity. Beyond morality is wisdom.
Practise the Dhamma A genuine Buddhist, must practise loving-kindness and compassion towards every living being. Compassion embraces all sorrowful beings. Wisdom gained by development of the qualities of the mind and heart is wisdom par excellence.
The gift of Dhamma excels all gifts the taste of Dhamma excels all taste, the delight in dhamma excels all delights, The Craving-Freed vanquishes all suffering. - Dhammapada verse 354 End of Lesson 3