Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I really enjoyed this passage from The Buddhist Blog.

I like how it explores the tensions between the need for experience, and how ideas an dphilosophies can act as a vehicle for that experience, or, act as dogmatic barriers and cause unrest between people. I hope James does not mind me borrowing this from his blog. Its definately worth a read if you have a few spare moments and are interested in Buddhist thinking. James has a real knack for putting together teachings from Buddhism and placing them in the context of his own experience which really helps to bring them to life.

The following conversation was between the ascetic Dighanaka and Gautama the Buddha from the book Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh:

Dighanakha asked the Buddha, "Gautama, what is your teaching? What are your doctrines? For my part, I dislike all doctrines and theories. I don't subscribe to any at all."

The Buddha smiled and asked, "Do you subscribe to your doctrine of not following and doctrines? Do you believe in your doctrine of not-believing?"

Somewhat taken aback, Dighanakha replied, "Gautama whether I believe of don't believe is no importance."

The Buddha spoke gently, "Once a person is caught by belief in a doctrine, he loses all his freedom. When on becomes dogmatic, he believes his doctrine is the only truth and that all other doctrines are heresy. Disputes and conflicts all arise from narrow views. They can extend endlessly, wasting precious time and sometimes even leading to war. Attachment to views is the greatest impediment to the spiritual path. Bound to narrow views, one becomes so entangled that it is no longer possible to let the door of truth open."


Dighanakha asked, "But what of your own teaching? If someone follows your teaching will he become caught in narrow views?"

"My teaching is not a doctrine or a philosophy. It is not the result of discursive thought or mental conjecture like various philosophies which contend that the fundamental essence of the universe is fire, water, earth, wind, or spirit, or that the universe is either finite or infinite, temporal, or eternal. Mental conjecture and discursive thought about truth are like ants crawling around the rim of the bowl -- they never get anywhere. The things I say come from my own experience. You can confirm them all by your own experience.


My goal is not to explain the universe, but to help guide others to have a direct experience of reality. Words cannot describe reality. Only direct experience enables us to see the true face of reality."

Dighanakha exclaimed, "Wonderful, wonderful Gautama! But what would happen if a person did perceive your teaching as a dogma?"


I must state clearly that my teaching is method to experience reality and not reality itself, just as a finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself. An intelligent person makes use of the finger to see the moon."

1 comment:

"James" said...

I am not bothered in anyway by you reposting this great story.

I am also humbled by your compliments. Thank-you.

(Bows to you with the greatest respect).