Buddhism for Humans
It took several years for me to fully embrace Buddhism. Although I found “Buddhist” concepts to be interesting and admirable, I initially felt it was an exotic religion in which the symbols, superstitions, and rituals were far removed from my own experiences. It was not until I was exposed to the teachings of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu that I was able to fully embrace Buddhism. These teachings then led me to Zen, which is a path unto itself.
I thought I’d share a summary/book report of my first exposure to the teachings of Buddhadasa Bhikku. The book/transcript, “Handbook for Mankind” served as a slap in the face for me; it caused me to question everything I had previously I thought I “knew” about Buddhism.
I hope you all find it interesting…
The teachings of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu
What is Buddhism? Is it a religion? If we are to refer to Buddhism as a religion, we must recognize that it is a religion based on intelligence, science and knowledge, rather than superstition and faith. As such, Buddhism is not concerned with invisible beings, ritual magic, and the afterlife.
Buddhism is a practical system of thinking and living. Through the study and practice of Buddhism, we strive to gain a clear understanding of the true nature of things, or "what is what," and live our lives accordingly. The objective of Buddhism is enlightened awareness and the corresponding elimination of suffering and the source of suffering.
Examine your own life and thoughts and ask if you truly understand what is what. Even if you know what you are, what life is, what work, duty, livelihood, money, possessions, honor and fame are, would you dare to claim that you know everything?
If we truly understood what is what, we would never act inappropriately; through this combination of clear understanding and appropriate actions, we would free ourselves of the causes of suffering. As it is, we are ignorant of the true nature of things, so we behave more or less inappropriately and, as a result, we suffer the consequences of our thoughts and actions.
Buddhist practice is designed to teach us how things really are. To know this in all clarity is to attain the Fruit of the Path, and live a more balanced, fulfilled life. Through continued practice, we seek to obtain even perhaps the final Fruit, Nirvana, enlightenment, or the complete quenching of craving and suffering, and a perfect awareness of the way things are.
A Buddha is an enlightened individual, one who knows the truth about all things, one who knows just what is what, and so is capable of behaving appropriately in all situations, with respect to all things.
Clear awareness through the practice of Buddhism brings an end to the source of suffering, anxiety and depression. When we come to know what is what, or the true nature of things, disenchantment with things takes the place of fascination, and deliverance from suffering comes about automatically.
At the moment, we are practicing at a stage where we still do not know what things are really like. Specifically, we are at the stage of not yet realizing that all things are impermanent and not "selves." We don't as yet realize that life and all the things we desire, rejoice over and become infatuated with are impermanent, unsatisfactory and not "self." It is for this reason that we become infatuated with those things, liking them, desiring them, rejoicing over them, grasping at them and clinging to them.
When, by following the Buddhist method, we come to see things clearly, we recognize that they are all impermanent, unsatisfactory and not "selves." There is really nothing about anything that might make it worth grasping at or clinging to. Once we realize this, there will immediately come about a slipping free from the controlling power of those things.
Parts of this discussion were copied directly from "Handbook for Mankind," the teachings of Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. All of the material was inspired by the same teachings, with segments rewritten for the sake of communication with people unfamiliar with basic Buddhism and Sanscrit and Thai terminology.
For more information, visit http://www.buddhanet.net/budasa.htm