|Lost in my website is a personal homepage that really has no access, it was just there because it was an original homepage. There was a bit on Buddhism I have just updated with the following:-|
In some ways the issues are the same now (February 2016), where is the genuine Buddhism? Back then I thought Theravada was genuine. Following retirement in 2006 I continued with that theme focussing my study on Theravada. By that concentrating I have come to see Buddhism so differently. Where is “what the Buddha taught?”, and my answer now is “who knows?” Theravada has the high ground in the sense that the mostly claim to source their teachings in the suttapitaka, but this is not something I now feel confident about.
The Theravada sources are themselves are shrouded. I do not know the full history but what is written in the Theravada sources (which can be downloaded here) were committed to paper many years after the death of the Buddha. Theravadans claim that these people had perfect memories and it was common for things to be recounted that way. I am sceptical. In this original piece I had completely bought into the belief that Theravada following the original teachings of the Buddha, now I see there are important areas of disagreement amongst Theravadans especially the issue of anatta and reincarnation amongst the Forest Sangha.
But Buddhadasa has taught me much, and that is to question views held as original Buddha teachings via Theravada. The questioning is mainly concerned with interpretation. The suttas are seen by many (especially intellectuals) as literal, and by studying Buddhadasa to some extent I have started to see this literal perception as a misunderstanding. Intellectuals discuss dogma, argue minutiae of dogma, argue authenticity of dogma, argue discussions about dogma, and miss the boat concerning what the purpose of the teachings are. In Buddhadasa’s interpretation he argues context, typically:-
The Buddha needed to use words that implied acceptance of reincarnation because at the time all in India needed scripture that accepted reincarnation.
People generally say that the Buddha avoided discussion of reincarnation but did emphasise anatta as in paticcasamuppada.
The longer I discuss in this way the more I too get bogged down in intellectualism, authenticity and so on because language and society is about these things – not truth. I interpret what the Buddha taught as not about any of these, to me Buddhadasa is about the underlying meaning of the Buddha’s teachings as he attempts to get at what the Buddha taught.
Buddhadasa lived in Thailand where Buddhism is the mainstream religion, and there is much discussion and much written about it. Buddhadasa also discusses, gets into authentication, and did a prolific amount of work. Whilst Buddhadasa’s work focusses on idapaccayata-paticcasamuppada (inc anatta and ariya sacca) in my view his work is not meant as an intellectual study, in other words it cannot be understood by intellect alone. [Note this indicator – those teaching westerners at Suan Mokh offer as download Idapaccayata – scroll down to idapaccayata.zip] (or download from mysite or from mega).
To a certain extent I understand Buddhadasa’s focus through a quote from Shobogenzo:-
“those who sit in meditation will, beyond doubt, drop off body and mind, and cut themselves free from their previous confused and defiling thoughts and opinions in order to personally realize what the innate Dharma of the Buddha is” [p35 Shobogenzo book]
Buddhadasa talked about “removing attachment form the 5 khandas” in Ariya Sacca. Is this “drop off body and mind”? What is left? “the innate Dharma of the Buddha”.
When I think of my experiences when writing, the writing occurred when I reached the “muse”, a state of mind that was free and just creative – writing. This muse or state of mind I have just come to realise is jhana, when in jhana there is no attachment to khandas – unless I try to cling to it. Am I just seeing “the innate dhamma”? Of course not because that innate Dhamma would be Voidness, but it is getting towards that in some way, in a way that is not intellectual, cannot be described by language.
In the end I do however hold to the Unity that Buddhadasa describes here:-
“For those of you sitting here who are interested in going to study Buddhism, please take notice that there is no such thing as Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism, Zen Buddhism and all that stuff. There is just one real Buddhism and this is just pulling that I and mine out from the 5 khandas so that there is just the khandas – removing this I and mine out from the khandas. This is Buddhism. Everything else has just been added to make things showy, to make it interesting, to make it impressive, to entertain the children and all these things, so it makes the real teaching seem very profound so that nobody can understand it – all this extra stuff . Please find out what the real thing is, and save yourself the trouble of the other stuff.”