1. In Asia, it is known as Buddha-sasana, the way of life or discipline, of the Awakened One, the Buddha.
2. It is also known as Buddha-Dharma, the eternal truth of the Awakened One.
3. Buddhist Tradition:
a. A Buddha has appeared from time to time throughout human history whenever people's knowledge of Dharma is lost and the practice of sasana ceases altogether.
b. By tradition, this happens approximately every 5,000 years.
1. Tradition records at least twenty-four Buddhas prior to Buddah-Gautama.
2. Buddhist tradition conceives of a period of ca. 120,000 years of history prior to Bhuddha-Gautama in the 6th Century B.C.
4. Who or What was the Buddha?
o Asked by his followers are you a god, an angle, a saint. His response to each was no.
a. Buddha simply said, "I am awake." The Sanskrit root word, budh, means to wake up and to know.
b. Buddha, then, means the "Enlightened One" or the"Awakended One".
SIDDHARTHA GAUTAMA OF THE SAKYAS
1. He was born ca. 560 B.C. in northern India approximately 100 miles from the city of Benares.
2. His father was said to be a king but more likely he was our conception of a feudal lord.
3. Siddhartha was his given name, Gautama was his surname, and Sakya was the name of the clan to which his family belonged.
o He became to be known as Sakyamuni, the sage of the Sakyas.
4. He appears to have been extremely handsome for there are numerous references to "the perfection his visible body".
a. At sixteen he married a neighboring princess named Yasodhora who gave birth to a son named Rahula.
b. He appeared to be destined for wealth, power, and prestige.
o During his twenties, he became discontented which led to a complete break with his worldly position.
5. The Legend of the Four Passing Sights:
a. At Siddhartha's birth, it was foretold he would either unify India and become her greatest conqueror, a Cakravartin or if he withdrew from the world, he would become a world redeemer.
b. His father was determined that his son would became a Cakravartin -- the prince was to be shielded from contact with sickness, decrepitude, and death.
o When Siddhartha went riding, runners were sent out to clear the roads of these sights.
c. One day-an old man was overlooked, so Siddhartha came in contact with a decrepit man, broken-toothed, gray haired, crooked and bent of body, leaning on a staff and trembling.
o Importance: Siddhartha learned the fact of old age.
d. On a second ride, Siddhartha encountered a body racked with disease lying on the road; and on a third journey, a corpse. Finally on a fourth day, he saw a monk with a shaven head, orchre robe, and bowl.
o On the final day: Siddhartha learned the possibility of withdrawal from the world.
e. The Legend embodies an important truth.
1. It is the body's inescapable involvement with disease, decrepitude, and death that makes one despair of finding fulfillment on the physical plane.
2. "Life is subject to age and death. Where is the realm of life in which there is neither age or death.
3. Having perceived the inevitability of bodily pain and passage, he could not return to the pleasures of the world and his father's home.
6. "The Great Going Forth"
a. Twenty-nine years old -- he went to where his wife and son were sleeping and made a silent good-bye to them.
b. Having left with an attendant, Siddhartha reached the edge of a forest by daybreak where he changed clothes with his attendant who returned to explain what had happened.
1. Gautama shaved his head and went into the forest in search of enlightenment.
2. Six years were spent in this search: "How hard to live the life of the lonely forest dweller. -- to rejoice in solitude. Verily, the silent groves must bear heavy upon the monk who has not yet won to fixity of mind."
7. The "Search": moved through three phases.
o there is no record as to how long each lasted or how sharply the three were divided.
a. First, he sought out two of the foremost Hindu Masters of the day to pick their minds for the wisdom in their vast tradition.
b. Second, he joined a band of ascetics and assumed every austerity they proposed.
1. He grew so weak that he fell into a faint, and if companions had not been around to feed him some warm rice gruel he might easily have died.
2. This experience taught him the futility of ascetism -- it had not brought enlightenment, and the failure of asceticism provided the first positive belief in Gautama's philosophy.
c. The principle of the Middle Way -- between the extremes of asceticism on the one hand and indulgence on the other.
o it is the concept of the rational life in which the body is given precisely what it needs in the way of food and rest for optimum functioning but no more.
d. Final Phase: was a combination of vigorous thought and mystic concentration (through yoga).
1. Near Gaya in northeast India, site of the current town of Patna, he sat beneath a fig tree which has become known as the Bo Tree (short for Bodhi or enlightenment which is knowledge).
2. It became known as the Immovable Spot -- the Buddha vowed not to rise until he found enlightenment.
3. Mara (the Evil One): in an attempt to disrupt Siddharhartha's concentration, he appeared in the form of Desire parading three voluptuous goddesses.
4. Mara then came in the form of Death attacking him with hurricanes, torrential rains, showers of flaming rocks that splashed boiling mud, and finally a great darkness.
a. The missiles became blossom petals as they entered the field of Siddhartha's field of concentration.
b. The Buddha, having been challenged by Mara, touched the earth with his fingertip -- the earth thundered, "I bear witness" with a 100,000, and a hundred thousand roars.
c. Mara's army fled, and the gods of heaven descended to wait upon the victor with garlands and perfumes.
8. "The Great Awakening"
a. Gautama's essence was being transformed, and emerged the Buddha.
b. An event of "Cosmic Importance" -- all living creatures rejoiced and the earth quaked six times.
c. This experience kept the Buddha in his spot for seven entire days.
o on the eighth day he tried to rise, but couldn't-- he remained for 49 days until he opened his "glorious glance" again onto the world.
d. Mara was there with one more temptation.
1. He appealed this time to reason -- arguing "how could speech-defying revelation be translated into words?"
2. "How can one show what can only be found, teach what can what can only be learned?"
3. The Buddha's Answer: "There will be some who will understand," and Mara was banished from his life forever.
9. A half century followed: the Buddha preached throughout India.
a. He founded an order of monks, challenging the society of the Brahmins.
b. Buddha attracted disciples who were eager to be instructed in the "way" or "path" (magga) of which he spoke.
c. Buddha's Message: was addressed to all in which they enter "a path" of full understanding of the truth.
d. The Indian Caste-System was ignored.
1. When a man entered the Sangha, the order of those who were engaged in full-time pursuit of the Bhuddhist holy life.
2. Lay followers (upasikas) practiced the Buddhist rule of life for their households.
e. Pattern of "Withdrawal and Return"
1. The Buddha withdrew for six years and then returned for 45 years.
2. Each year was similarly divided -- nine months in the world, the rainy season spent in retreat with his monks.
o daily cycle -- public hours integrated with three times a day that he withdrew through meditation, so he might restore his center of gravity.
10. ca. 480 B.C.: Buddha died, at the age of 80, after eating poison mushrooms at the home of Cunda, a smith.
o Buddha said: Cunda should be told that of all the meals he had eaten during his life only two stood out as exceptional-- one was the meal that enabled him to attain enlightenment under the Bo Tree; and the other was that which was opening the final gates to Nirvana.
The Buddha: "The Silent Sage"
1. Rationalist: every problem would be subjected to the analytical process of his mind.
2. There was constant pressure on the Buddha, during his lifetime, to turn himself into a god.
o he opposed every such attempt insisting that he was human in every respect.
o he made no attempt to conceal his temptations and weaknesses, and how difficult it was to attain enlightenment.
3. Cosmic Mission
a. He believed that the world of humanity was in desperate need of help and guidance.
b. "He was born into the world for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, for the advantage, the good, the happiness of gods and men, out of compassion for the world."
4. To his followers, the Buddha remained half light, half shadow, defying complete intelligibility.
a. They called him Sakyamuni, "silent sage (muni) of the Sakya (his clan).
b. They called him Tathagata: "Thus-Come", the "Truth-winner", the Perfectly Enlightened One.
Buddhism: the Religion
1. It was in reaction against the excesses of Hinduism.
2. Six aspects of religion:
a. Authority: divine authority implies the virtue of competence, that their advice will win respect, and it will be followed.
b. Ritual: religion probably originated in celebration and concern, and when people felt like celebrating or were deeply concerned they got together and acted together.
c. Speculation: the mind enters to find an understanding of God and the human spirit.
d. Tradition: (lessons of one's ancestors) -- a means for society and culture to pass on the wisdom of the past.
e. The Concept of God's Sovereignty and Grace: "the feeling of absolute dependence and that one's existence is completely dependent upon factors beyond one's control."
1. Man's drive for simplicity, coherence, and oneness are issues in the theological concept of God's Sovereignty.
2. God's free and sustaining gifts (grace) to Man had made man's life possible.
f. Mystery: Religion's final business is the infinite, the beyond. The rationalist cannot see its credibility and thus does not understand it.
3. Hinduism of Buddha's Day.
a. Authority was used to insure the privilege of the Brahmin Caste. Strict regulations were devised to insure that religious truths remained their secret possessions.
b. Ritual: endless libations, sacrifices, chants, and musicales were available if one had money to pay the priest to perform them -- but the spiritual essence of ritual had disappeared.
c. Speculation: disputes over whether the world had been created or not and what actually transmigrated after death -- arguments that could not affect man's religious life.
d. Tradition: instead of preserving and transmitting the wealth of the past, it had become an obstacle by its insistence that Sanskrit remain the language of religion.
e. Divine Sovereignty and Grace: had lost meaning with the conclusion that nothing needed to be done to effect one's salvation and that nothing could be done.
f. Mystery: had degenerated to the use of magic and divination.
4. Buddha's belief that truth might find a new freshness, strength, and vitality for Man.
5. A religion emerges almost entirely dissociated from each of the six corollaries of religion.
a. Devoid of Authority:
1. Aim to break the monopolistic grip of the Brahmin Caste on religious truths.
o on his death bed he said, "I have not kept anything back."
2. The individual: Buddha said each individual is to seek his own religious truth and not to rely on the Brahmins to tell them what to do.
b. Devoid of Ritual:
1. Buddah ridiculed Brahmanic rites and prayers and did not believe in their efficacy.
2. Buddha never instituted any rites of his own which led many scholars to characterize his teachings as rational moralism.
c. Devoid of Speculation:
1. Buddha flatly refused to discuss metaphysics (attempts to understand reality and knowledge).
2. Buddha: "Greed for views of this sort tend not to edification.
d. Devoid of Tradition:
1. He believed the past (tradition)-Hinduism had buried his contemporaries, and they needed to be free from its burdens.
2. Buddha had decided to not use Sanskrit and to do all his teachings in the vernacular (Pali) of the people.
e. Buddha preached a religion of intense self-effort.
1. Many had come to accept the round of birth and rebirth as unending.
o resigned to the Brahmin sponsored notion that the process would take a 1,000 years for one to work his way into the Brahmin Caste.
2. He also denied the idea that there is no action, no deed, no power to find a path to an end of suffering.
3. He told his followers to work out their salvation for themselves -- Buddha rejected the notion that only Brahmins could attain Enlightenment.
f. Devoid of the Supernatural:
1. Buddha condemned all forms of Divination -- an appeal to the supernatural was an attempt at short cuts, simple solutions diverting one's attention from the hard practical task of self-advance (toward Enlightenment).
2. Was it a religion without God? After his death, his followers added all those elements that Buddha had excluded.
6. Buddha's Approach To Religion:
a. It was empirical (theory that all knowledge was based on experience).
1. On every question, direct personal experience was the final test of truth.
2. "Do not go by reasoning, nor by inferring, nor by argument." A true disciple must "Know for himself."
b. It was scientific: Direct experience was final but it was aimed at uncovering the cause and effect relationships that ordered existence.
o "That being present, this becomes: that not being present this does not become."
c. It was pragmatic:
1. In the sense of being exclusively concerned with problem solving, refusing to be side tracked by speculation.
2. Buddha said that his teachings were life rafts, helpful for crossing a stream but of no further value once the other side had been reached.
d. It was therapeutic:
1. "One thing I teach," said Buddha: "suffering and the end of suffering."
2. It is just Ill and the ceasing of Ill that I proclaim.
e. It was psychological: (in a metaphysical sense).
o Not the universe and man's place in it, but Buddha began with man, his problems, his nature, and the dynamics of his development.
f. It was democratic: he attacked the caste system opening his order to all regardless of social position.
g. It was directed to individuals:
1. He founded an order, but insisted on its importance as an aid to spiritual advancement.
2. His appeal was to the individual, that each should make his own way toward enlightenment.
The Four Noble Truths: after leaving the Bo tree (the immovable spot), he began a walk of over a 100 miles toward India's holy city of Benares.
o Before arriving, in a Deer Park near Sarnath, he preached his first sermon.
1. He had a congregation of only five ascetics, and his subject was the Four Noble Truths.
o it was a declaration of the key discoveries that had come to him as the climax of his six year quest.
2. The First Noble Truth is that life is dukka (usually translated as "suffering".
a. Dukka then means pain that seeps at some level into all finite existence.
b. Life in the condition it has gotten itself into that is dislocated. Something has gone wrong. It has slipped out of joint.
o As its pivot is no longer true, its condition involves excessive friction (interpersonal conflict), impeded motion (blocked creativity), and pain.
c. Buddha cites six occasions when life's dislocation becomes evident.
1. The trauma of birth: it is the prototype for all occasions on which life is endangered.
2. The pathology of sickness.
3. The morbidity of decrepitude: ie. fear of being unloved and unwanted; the fear of financial dependence; the fear of protracted illness; the fear of being ugly, the fear of being a nuisance, a care, and a burden.
4. The phobia of death.
5. To be tied to what one abhors: ie. an incurable disease, an ineradicable personal weakness.
d. The First Noble Truth concludes with the assertion that the Five Skandas are painful.
o The five skandas: are body, sense, ideas, feelings, and consciousness.
3. The Second Noble Truth is tanha (the cause of life's dislocation) usually translated as "desire".
a. Problem: to start from where we are now and unequivocally let go of every desire would be to die, and to die does not solve the problem of living.
b. Tanha is a specific kind of desire, the desire to pull apart from the rest of life and seek fulfillment through ourselves.
4. The Third Noble Truth is the overcoming of selfish craving which dislocates life.
o if we could be released from the narrow limits of self-interest into the vast expanse of universal life, we would be free from our torment.
5. The Fourth Noble Truth advises how this cure can be accomplished.
o the overcoming of tanha is through the Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path:
1. Buddah's approach to the problem of life in the Four Noble Truths was that of a therapist.
a. Assumption: there is less creativeness, more conflict, and more pain than we feel is right.
b. These symptoms (suffering-dukka) are summarized in the Fourth Noble Truth.
c. Diagnosis: the answer is given in the Second Noble Truth (the cause of life's dislocation is tanha) or the drive for private fulfillment.
o What is wrong and the answer is tanha.
o The Third Noble Truth announces that the disease can be cured by overcoming the egoist drive for separate existence.
d. The Fourth Noble Truth shows us that tanha can be overcome through the Eightfold Path.
2. Buddha taught that life is something that can be trained for like a profession.
Two Ways of Life:
a. "Wandering About" is a random, unreflective way where one is pushed and pulled by circumstance and impulse.
b. "The Path" is the way of intentional living where a system of habit formation is designed to release an individual from tanha.
c. The Eight fold Path intends nothing less than to remake the total man and leave him a different being, a person cured of life's crippling disabilities.
o "Happiness is he who seeks may win," Buddah said, "If he practices."
3. The Eightfold Path is preceded by a preliminary step: Right Association.
a. Buddha recognized that man is a social animal who is influenced by example of our associates (at times more clearly than any others).
b. Without visible evidence that success is possible, one will ultimately become discouraged.
c. Shankara: "We should give thanks everyday for the company of the holy, for as bees cannot make honey save when together neither can man make progress on the way except if he is supported by a field of trust and concern generated by the Truth Winners."
4. The Eightfold Path
a. Right Knowledge:
1. Man is a rational (intelligent) creature who has the ability to choose (ie. "free will").
2. To Buddah though, some convictions are necessary if one is to take up the Path.
ie. The Four Noble Truths: that suffering abounds, that it is occasioned by a drive for separate existence and fulfillment, that it can be cured through the Eightfold Path.
b. Right Aspiration:
1. Man is advised to make up his mind (heart) as to what he really wants.
2. If there is to be progress on the Path, consistency of intent and determination to transcend our separateness and identity ourselves with the welfare of all is necessary.
c. Right Speech:
1. Language furnishes an indication of our character and a lever (means) of changing it.
2. How many times do we deviate from the truth and then ask ourselves why we did it?
3. Lack of charity in speech should begin with watching our speech to become aware of the motives that prompted such speech.
4. Once we become aware of our speech, the need for change can be realized.
5. Buddah's Purpose: was not moral but ontological (metaphysics -- the theory of the nature of being and existence.)
a. Change toward the truth -- deceit is bad because it reduces one's being (essence).
b. We deceive because of a fear of revealing to others or to ourselves what we really are.
c. Change toward charity -- when one conceals his intent, he again impacts upon his being, his existence.
d. Right Behavior
1. One must understand his own behavior more objectively to be able to improve it.
o attention should be focused on the motives that prompted such behavior.
2. Buddah's Five Precepts (Buddhist variation on the second or ethical half of the Ten Commandments).
a. Do not kill - this was also extended to animals.
b. Do not steal.
c. Do not lie.
d. Do not be unchaste.
e. Do not drink intoxicants.
e. Right Livelihood
1. Right livelihood demands joining a monastic order and participating in its discipline for spiritual growth (advancement).
2. For the Layman, it meant to engage in an occupation that promotes life instead of destroying it.
3. Professions incompatible with spiritual advance. (ie. poison peddler, slave dealer, prostitute, butcher, brewer, armament maker, tax collector, the caravan driver.
o Buddha's teachings on occupations were aimed at distinguishing between those which were conducive and detrimental to spiritual advance.
f. Right Effort:
1. Buddha laid tremendous importance on the will.
o virtues had to be developed, passions had to be curbed, and evil mind states to be transcended if love and detachment are to have a chance.
2. Buddha: "Those who follow the way might well follow the example of an ox that marches through the mire carrying a heavy load. He is tired, but his steady gaze, looking forward, will never relax until he comes out of the mire, and it is only then he takes a rest.
3. Buddha had more confidence in the steady pull than the quick spurt.
o "He who takes the longest strides does not walk the fastest."
g. Right Mindfulness:
1. Buddha believed that the mind had a great deal of influence over our lives.
o "All we are is the result of what we have thought."
2. It was ignorance, not sin, that struck Buddha as the offender -- sin is prompted by a more fundamental ignorance.
3. To confront sin, one must be continually alert through a process of self examination.
o One's greatness only exists in proportion to his self knowledge.
4. Thoughts and feelings are not a permanent part of us -- they are to be taken intellectually and emotionally.
o Buddha recommends to keep the mind in control of his sense instead of allowing the reverse to occur.
5. The Seventh Step calls one to a steady awareness of what he is about and what is happening to him.
h. Right Absorption:
1. Realization or decision to abandon the world and give one's life to spiritual adventure (the real reality).
2. It is a new mode of experience; a transmutation into a different kind of creature with another world to live in.
3. A realization where (in its true state) the mind rests.
Basic Buddhist Concepts
a. Buddha: never wrote about his teachings -- there is a period of a century and half before the first written record of Buddha.
b. The quantity of material that has come down based on 45 years of teaching has created a problem of interpretation.
c. Partisan schools (sects) had appeared by the time these texts appeared.
o Some wanted to minimize his break with Hinduism others wanted to focus on it. Whose views were they?
2. Nirvana: it literally means "to blow out or to extinguish."
a. It is the highest destiny of the human spirit and its literal meaning is extinction.
b. It is the boundary of the finite self that is to be extinguished.
Buddha: "Bliss, yes bliss, my friends is Nirvana."
c. Is Nirvana God?
"We are told that Nirvana is permanent, stable, imperishable, immovable, ageless, deathless, unborn, unbecoming, that it is power, bliss and happiness, the secure refuge, the shelter, and the place of unassailable safety; that it is the real Truth and supreme Reality; that it is the Good, the supreme goal and the one and only consummation of our life, the eternal, hidden and incomprehensible Peace.
d. Nirvana is not God defined as personal creator but it is close enough to the concept of God as Godhead to warrant the name in that sense.
Buddha: "There would be no deliverance from the born, the made, the compounded."
3. Doctrine of Anatta (no soul).
a. Atta is Pali for the Sanskrit Atman or soul (which Buddha denied).
b. Concept of Atman in Buddah's Day.
1. A spiritual substance in accord with the dualistic outlook of Hinduism.
2. Believed to retain its separateness throughout eternity.
c. Buddah denied both concepts of the soul (Atman).
d. The denial of the soul as a spiritual substance seems to be the main point of distinction between his concept of transmigration and the Hindu View.
1. Buddah did not doubt that reincarnation in some sense was a fact, but he was uncomfortable with Brahmanic interpretation of the concept.
2. Buddah used the image of a flame passing from one candle to the next -- the flame of the last candle cannot be the same as the first.
o The connection is a causal one in which influence was transmitted by chain reaction, but not substance.
3. Buddha did accept the concept of Karma.
e. Buddha's View of Transmigration:
1. There is a chain of causation threading each life to those which have led up to it and others which will follow.
o Each life is in the condition it is in because of the way the lives which have led into it were lived.
2. In the midst of this causal sequence, man's will remains free.
o the consequences of acts will not determine what he must do.
o Man's will remains free able to effect his destiny.
3. The causal sequence does not assume the idea of a mental substance that is passed on from life to life.
o There is no underlying spiritual substance.
4. Buddha challenged the implications of permanence contained in the idea of substance.
5. He believed in the transitoriness of all finite things and the realization of the perpetual perishing of every natural object.
6. The Three Signs of Being:
a. Impermanence - he listed as the first.
b. Others were suffering and the absence of a permanent soul.
7. "Does man continue to exist after death?"
a. Skandas are the forces holding life together.
b. Ordinary men leave strands of finite desire that can only be realized in other incarnations. (in this sense man lives on.)
c. Arhat: (one who has achieved Nirvana) has extinguished all such desires.
Does he continue to exist?
1. The idea of reborn and not reborn does not apply.
2. If he was reborn, one would have assumed a continuation of personal experiencing which Buddah did not intend.
3. If Buddah said that the enlightened one ceases to exist, one would assume that he was consigned to total extinction which Buddah did not intend.
o It is a return to a pure, invisible condition that existed before the visible appeared.
o The ultimate destiny of the human spirit is a condition in which all identification with the historical experience of the finite self disappears while experience itself remains.
d. As long as the spirit remains tied to a body its freedom from the particular, the temporal, and the changing cannot be complete.
o If increased freedom brings increased being, it follows that total freedom should bring total being.
Big Raft and Little Raft
1. What questions divided Buddhism?
a. Are men independent or interdependent?
1. The self is an independent center of freedom and initiative.
o "I got where I am by myself."
2. The separateness of their beings seems scarcely real--they are impressed by the web that binds all life together.
b. What is the relationship of Man to the Universe?
o Is the universe friendly, is it helpful toward man as he reaches out for fulfillment?
o Is it indifferent, or even hostile to the human quest?
c. What is the best part of man, his head or his heart?
1. Would you rather be loved or respected?
2. Would you seek wisdom over compassion?
2. These are the questions that divided the early Buddhists, and are probably the questions that have divided us since we realized our own humanity.
a. One group said man is an individual; whatever progress he makes will be through his own doing, and wisdom above all will carry him to this goal.
b. The other group said that man's destiny is dissolubly meshed with his fellows, grace is a fact, and love is the greatest thing in the world.
3. Other Differences
a. The first group insisted that Buddhism was a full-time job. (it didn't expect everyone to make Nirvana his central goal.)
o If Nirvana is the goal, one would have to give up the world and become a monk.
b. The second group did not rest all its hope on self-effort, and was less demanding.
o It held that its outlook was as relevant for the layman as for the professional, that in its own way it applied as much to the world as to the monastery.
4. Each called itself a yana (a raft or ferry) and proposed to carry man across the sea of life to the shore of enlightenment.
a. Mahayana (the big raft): the second group pointing to its doctrine of grace and its ampler provision for laymen, claimed to be the larger of the two.
b. Hinayana (the little raft)
1. They preferred to speak of their brand of Buddhism as Theravada, the Way of the Elders.
2. They claim to represent the original Buddhism as taught by Gautama.
c. Mahayanists counterclaim that they represent the true line of succession.
1. Their first emphasis is on Buddha's life instead of his teachings.
2. They point out that Buddha did not slip off to Nirvana by himself, but gave his life for (as) the help of others.
5. The Two Schools: differences.
a. Theravada Buddhism considers man an individual, his salvation is not contingent on the salvation of others.
o Mahayana Buddhism says life being one, the fate of the individual is linked with the fate of all.
1. They believe this is implicit in Buddha's doctrine of Anatta. (being or things have no ego entirely of their own.)
2. "We are what we are because of what others are."
b. Theravada holds that man is on his own in this universe. Freedom is achieved through self-reliance and self effort.
o Mahayana - maintains that grace is a fact and its power is grounded in Nirvana and dwells in each of us.
c. Thervada - the key virtue was bodhi (wisdom), with the absence of self-seeking emphasized more than the active doing of good.
o Mahayana - the key virtue is karuna (compassion), unless it eventuates in compassion, wisdom is worthless.
d. Thervada - centers on monks and monasteries which are the spiritual focus of the lands where it predominates.
o Renunciation of the world is held in high esteem and even men who do not intend to become monks are expected to live as monks for a year or two.
o Mahayana - is a religion for laymen. Even priests are expected to make the service of laymen their primary concern.
e. Theravada - the ideal was Arhat, the perfected discipline. On one's own effort he seeks the goal of Nirvana.
o Mahayana - the ideal was the Bodhissattva, "one whose essence (sattva) is perfected wisdom (bodhi).
o One who has brought himself to the brink of Nirvana renounces his prize so that he may return to the world to help others reach Nirvana.
f. Theravada - Buddha was essentially a saint, a supreme sage, a man among men whose personal influence ceased upon entering Nirvana.
o Mihayana - Buddha is a world savior who continues to draw all creatures to him.
g. Other Differences
1. The Theravadins looked upon speculation as a useless distraction, the Mahayanas elaborated a cosmology with in-numerable heavens, hells, and descriptions of Nirvana.
2. The Theravadins only accept meditation as acceptable prayer.
o The Mahayanas have added supplication, petition, and calling upon Buddha by name.
h. Theravada remains conservative in their almost fundamentalist adherence to early Pali Texts.
o Mahayana was liberal by accepting later texts as equally authoritative, less strict in interpreting disciplinary rules, and held a higher regard for the spiritual possibilities of women and less gifted monks as well as laymen.
ie. The religion that began as a revolt against rites, speculation, grace and the supernatural, ends with all these back in the picture. Its founder who was an atheist in respect to a belief in a personal god is transformed into a God himself.
6. The Mahayana School became the dominant Buddhist Influence.
a. Asoka (ca. 272-232) - he not only founded the Big Raft but commended it to his subjects.
b. He attempted to extend it over three continents. He found Buddhism as an Indian Sect, and left it a World Religion.
c. Deeper Reasons for Mahayana Success:
1. Grace, compassion, and mutuality are words against which self-effort, individualism, and even wisdom ring hard and cold.
2. There is nothing in the outlook of Teravda that can rival the spiritual figures of the Bodhisattavas (mercy and compassion, with an atmosphere of trust and love, and a personal and devotional religion).
d. Big Raft - has expanded to Mongolia, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan.
e. Little Raft - remains confined to Ceylon, Burma, Thailand, and Cambodia.
The Secret of the Flower
1. Theravada has held together as a single unified tradition while Mahayana has divided into five main schools -- ie. One stresses faith, another study, another relies on efficacious formulas while a fourth assumes a semi-political color.
2. The Fifth School: is Mahayana's intuitive school which is alive in the Zen Buddhism of Japan.
o Zen is the Japanese counterpart of the Chinese ch'an which, in turn, is a translation of the Sanskrit dhyana meaning meditation that leads to insight.
3. Why study Zen Buddhism:
a. Many students of religion believe it is the purest form of spirituality in the Far East.
b. It provides an opportunity to look at religion as it has appeared among the Japanese.
4. Zen Buddhists claim to trace their perspective back to Gautama himself.
a. Gautama's teachings that found their way into the Pali Cannon were those the masses seized upon.
o Certain followers who were more perceptive caught from their master a higher angle of visions.
b. Buddha's Flower Sermon: on a mountain top with his followers using no words, Buddha raised a golden lotus.
c. Mahakasyapa was the only one who understood the point which caused Buddha to name him his successor.
d. This wisdom was transmitted in India through 28 Patriarchs and carried to China in A.D. 520 by Bodhidharma. Spreading from there to Japan in the Twelfth Century.
5. Zen is concerned with the limitations of language and reason, and makes their transcendence the central intent of its method.
6. Three Limitations of Words:
a. They build up a false world where other people are reduced to stereo-types, and actual feelings are hidden.
b. Even when their description of experience is in the main accurate it is never adequate.
c. Highest modes of experience transcend the reach of words.
7. Zen tradition maintains that Buddha was the first to make this point in the flower sermon by refusing to identify his discovery with any verbal expression.
o Bodhidharma reaffirmed the point by defining the treasure he had brought from India as "a special transmission outside of the scriptures."
a. This appears to be contradictory since most religions claim to special transmissions through the scriptures.
b. Zen Attitude: the questioning student is trying to fill the lack (emptiness) in their lives with words and concepts instead of experience.
8. Zen is designed to help the student crash the word-barrier, to startle his mind out of the conventional sluggishness into the heightened, more alert perception that will lead to Enlightenment.
9. Zennists have become staunch advocates of education believing that reason can actually help awareness toward its goal.
a. Zen logic and description makes sense only from an experiential perspective radically different from the ordinary.
b. Zen masters are determined that their students attain the experience itself, and not allow talk to take its place.
10. Zen survival and transmission has rested on a specific state of awareness transmitted from mind to mind.
a. It is this "transmission of Buddha-mind to Buddha-mind" that constitutes the special transmission of Bodhidharma cited as Zen's Essence.
b. This inward transmission was symbolized by the handing down of Buddha's robe and bowl from patriarch to patriarch.
o Eighth Century A.D.: the sixth patriarch in China ordered it discontinued believing it confused form with essence.
c. It is a succession of enlightened men who received the exact mind state that Buddha succeeded in awakening in Mahakasyapa.
o A Zen master claimed to have taught 900 students; 13 completed their Zen training, and 4 were given the inka (permission) stamped as roshis (Zen masters) to teach.
11. Zen training can be approached through three terms: zazen, koan, and sanzen.
12. Zazen: literally means seated meditation.
a. The bulk of Zen training takes place in large meditation halls where monks devote endless hours to sitting silently on two long, raised platforms extending the length of the hall on either side, their faces directed toward the center.
b. Their position is the lotus posture (taken from India) with eyes half opened, their gaze falls unfocused to the floor a few feet before them.
c. They sit seeking to develop their intuitive powers (thought to center in the abdomen), and then to relate their intuitive discoveries to the immediacy of their daily lives.
13. Koan: in a general sense means problem but it is more like a riddle.
a. It cannot be dismissed as absurd, he must bring the full impact of his mind on the problem until he comes up with an answer for his master.
b. In Zen we are dealing with a perspective that is convinced that reason is inherently limited and in the end must yield to another mode of knowing that can grasp reality more accurately.
c. Reason can prevent the full realization of truth, and Koans are designed to transcend this limitation.
d. The koan's purpose is to agitate the mind to impatience, to loosen the mind into discontent with conventional reason in which the mind has been locked up to that point.
e. Then having brought the mind (subject) to an intellectual and emotional impasse, it counts on a flash to bridge the gap between second and first hand experience.
o This continues until the structure of ordinary reason collapses, clearing the way for sudden intuition.
14. The Sazen: is a consultation where the trainee meets, twice daily on the average, with his Zen Master concerning meditation.
a. These meetings are always brief where the trainee states his koan and the answer which he has formulated.
b. The role of the Master is threefold.
1. When the answer is correct, the master validates it.
2. The rejection an answer is of extreme importance, so the student will put it permanently behind him.
The Ninth Century Rules of Hyskujo:
a. An opportunity to make close personal examination of the student.
b. To arouse him from immaturity and to beat down his false conceptions and to rid him of his prejudices.
3. The master is to keep the student's energy roused to total application upon his task.
15. What is the purpose or result of zazen, koan, and sanzen.
a. The first important step is an intuitive experience called satori.
b. It brings joy, a feeling of oneness with all things and a heightened sense of reality.
c. In Zen, satori is only the point of departure. Zen training begins in earnest after satori has been achieved with the realization that the student must experience further satoris as he proceeds.
16. The heart of Zen Training lies in introducing the eternal into the now, in widening the doors of perception to the point where the delight and wonder that characterize the satori experience can carry over to the ordinary events of man's day to day living.
o Until you can perform your duties however large or small with the perception that each is equally a manifestation of the in- finite in its particular time and space, the business of Zen remains unfinished.
17. The Condition of Life that Zen seeks to attain:
a. Life and the awareness that forms its core are experienced to be distinctly good.
1. The welfare of others becomes as important as one's own.
2. The dualisms of self and object, of self and others are transcended.
b. The Life of Zen does not draw the individual away from the world but returns him to it with a new perspective.
1. A realization that all distinctions are inconsequential.
2. "All is one, one is none, none is all."
o A oneness that is empty and complete.
c. With the perception of the infinite in the finite there comes an attitude of total agreeableness.
o One has passed beyond the opposites of good and evil, pleasure and pain, preference and rejection.
d. When the dichotomies between self and other, finite and infinite, and acceptance and rejection are transcended, the dichotomy between life and death also disappears.
1. One will not feel that one's individual death brings an end to life. (one lives from endless past and will live into an endless future).
2. Then the realization of Eternal Life (bliss) has been achieved.
The Image of the Crossing
1. Diversity within Buddhism: Little Raft, Big Raft, and Zen -- are they aspects of a single religion.
2. Variations Within a Single Religion
a. Claims a single founder from whom they derive their teachings.
b. Image of the Crossing: the experience of crossing a river on a ferryboat (metaphor).
c. Remember the Geography of the Far East: a land filled with rivers that must be crossed on one's journey.
3. Buddhism is a voyage across the river of life.
a. A transport from the common-sense shore of non enlightenment, spiritual ignorance, desire, and death to -- to the bank of wisdom which brings liberation.
b. The differences within Buddhism are no more than the variations in the kind of vehicle (yana) that is used.
4. Buddhism's Three Vows
a. The Buddha: one takes refuge in the fact that there was an explorer who made the trip and proved to us that it was possible.
b. The dharma: one takes refuge in the vehicle of transport, this boat to which we have committed our lives in the conviction that it is sea-worthy.
c. The sangha: one takes refuge in the Order, the crew that is navigating this trip and in whom we have confidence.
5. The Crossing
a. The two shores, human and divine, appear distinct as life and death, day and night.
b. When the crossing has been made, this dichotomy (dualism) does not remain.
c. The world of the divine is where the traveler stands.
1. Nirvana and emptiness have become one.
2. The distinction between time and eternity disappears.
Buddhism and Hinduism
1. Buddhism exists in all Asian lands except India.
2. Buddhism was, in a sense, accommodated within Hinduism.
a. Up to ca. A.D. 1,000 Buddhism continued in India as a distinct movement.
b. 1500 years of her history: the differences with Hinduism softened as Hinduism admitted the need for the reforms of Buddha.
c. Buddhism becoming more like Hinduism as it broadened into Mahayana.
3. Hinduism renewed an emphasis on kindness to all things, on non-killing of animals, the elimination of caste barriers in religious matters.
4. The influence of Bodhisattva can be seen in the Hindu devotional classic Bhagavatam by Ranti Deva.
" I desire not the Lord the greatness which comes by the attainment of the eightfold powers, nor do I pray him that I may not be born again; my one prayer to him is that I may feel the pain of others, as if I were residing within their bodies, and that I have the power of relieving their pain and making them happy."
5. Buddha was affectionately (on these points) reclaimed as " a rebel child of Hinduism", her great reformer, and an actual incarnation of God.