Jun 6, 2009

Basic Buddhism


“A foundational Buddhist doctrine is that we all are empty of intrinsic self. There is no soul, no permanent and cohesive individual who inhabits our limbs. Our "I" is a persistent delusion, re-created each moment by our senses and nervous systems…

“Gods and goddesses of Buddhism are not understood the same way gods and goddesses are understood by most westerners. Buddhist gods and goddesses have no intrinsic being or existence. It is a bit closer to a Buddhist understanding to think of them as archetypes. They represent aspects of enlightenment, such as wisdom and compassion. They also represent our own deepest nature...

“In Buddhism, what's called "reincarnation" or "rebirth" is not a soul migrating to another body. Rebirth might be understood as the activity or intention of one life carried over to another. Think of the energy of a wave causing another wave. The reborn individual is not the same person, but neither is he another person…

“The man Tenzin Gyatso [the Dalai Lama] seems not so much to live the role as to let the role live him. Now in his 70s, since the age of six he has spent at least four hours a day in meditation and study. He rises in the early morning hours to empty himself of attractions and aversions*, of ego and self-clinging. He moves through the day responding to each person, each moment, fully and appropriately. This is the ideal of Buddhist practice…”

* Without the ability to separate from attraction and aversion, you are easy meat for one of the many dream merchants around. They are skilled cattle handlers.

You will know when you've arrived when you understand "There is nothing to ask, and there is no one to answer" even if you didn't have to go through a year of silence.

The answer to all other questions whatsoever may be found in the short conversation that follows: A student at a California university reported to his professor, a Chinese gentleman, that Roger Bannister's original record breaking four minute mile record had been broken yet again by an athlete who shaved two twenty fifths of a second from that record. "Really," said the Chinese professor, "and what did he do with the time he saved?"

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