I just saw a piece from a group, “Buddhism for Beginners” — we’re all beginners, trying to keep don’t know mind — which stated that the Buddhist way of life boils down to three basic practices. Meditation, which I typically emphasize ad nauseam, is the third of those practices.
Before meditation, or bhavana, comes sila, which is observing the ethical precepts — do not harm other beings, do not steal, do not lie, refrain from irresponsible sexual conduct, and refrain from consuming intoxicants, which is pretty easy, really.
The first practice is dana, or generosity, liberality, open handedness. I mention…
Immediately after his awakening, the Buddha hesitated about teaching because he doubted that anyone else would understand what he had just realized.
He knew he would never have another birth. He could just as easily have killed himself and never had to worry about the sorrows and frustrations of human life again.
But he did not do that. Instead, he lived out his natural life, another 50 years, teaching relentlessly the whole time.
The Buddha did not need to kill himself because, for the purposes of what he realized and taught, he was already dead.
The part of ourselves that…
Ajahn Sumedho tells the story of visiting an elderly monk in a monastery who had suffered a stroke. Sumedho explains that this was a very learned man who had published multiple books.
The stroke had caused him to lose most of his memory.
Sumedho reports that he said he was much happier.
This is a very Buddhist story. In some sense, our identities, our egos, are mostly just memories. We think we know who we are because we can easily remember our names, our birthplaces, our education, our families, our publications, various details that aggregate into an individual identity.
Apparently, part of why Donald Trump is where he is right now (!) is because he is fearless. He is fearless because he is stupid and crazy and has no idea how civilized people behave, but he is fearless.
The Buddha was also fearless, but for very different reasons. The Buddha realized that all is impermanence and he knew that he would never come back after the end of the lifetime in which he awakened fully. He was also a fount of lovingkindness and compassion. No one feared him, so he feared no one.
We all can and should emulate…
This will likely sound like an outlandish claim, given the number of horrible events that seem to occur daily in the world right now. No doubt everyone has their own list. No point in reminding all of us by including one here.
But this is one of the great advantages of boogieing on down the Buddhist path at the fastest clip you can.
After he awakened, the Buddha had the most macro possible perspective on the world he lived in.
Obviously, we have any number of specific problems that the Buddha knew nothing about. …
I am making a specifically historical argument about Christianity.
The Dalai Lama is not a historian. He has no responsibility for knowing what I know about the horrors of Christian colonialism around the world, starting with Columbus. When he says that the foundation of Christianity is compassion, just like Buddhism, he takes Christians at their word, which is only polite.
The huge problem for anyone who does know what I know about the history of Christianity and the colonialism it inspired is that compassion has been notably absent from how good Christians have treated the various indigenous populations they encountered…
The Buddha was not a conformist. He learned as an adult about the realities of old age, sickness, and death, and resolved to find the solution.
Apparently everyone else chose not to look for a solution to this problem.
At first, the Buddha tried the existing solutions, such as they were. He learned the most advanced meditation techniques and found them wanting. He became an ascetic and starved himself for years because that was the other obvious option at the time.
But then he decided that wasn’t working either, so he decided to try meditation. …
Buddhism has no central scrutinizer whose job is to tell all Buddhists what to believe. It is possible that some Buddhists support the death penalty, but killing anyone does look like a violation of the first precept, to avoid harming anyone.
There are various points at which Buddhism and Christianity teach the same principles. That I know, one of the “Ten Commandments” that many Christians are very fond of is “Thou shalt not kill.” To my eye, that allows for no exceptions. Want to kill someone? The supposedly omnipotent deity of Christianity told you not to, so you should not…
It’s gross nonsense. If you stop to think logically about the major tenets of Christianity, it is easy to see how logically absurd they are.
I am not trying to be a chauvinist for Buddhism here. My claim is not that everyone should become Buddhist. Everyone should remain free to make their own choices in the matter. Buddhism is very concrete and logical. There is even a school called Secular Buddhism.
The first problem with Christianity is that it posits an omnipotent deity who made the universe and everything in it, which may have made some sense to premodern people…