What The Buddha Taught
October 12, 2010 § 3 Comments
Ok so, in my attempts to learn more about Buddhism, I’ve done a lot of searching. And as previously mentioned, I found a lot of really great sources of information and support. The major form of support I get is for now, virtually (see previous post).
Between Second Life, Face Book and other forms of online communication, I’ve gotten a lot of great information and found a wonderful virtual community — or virtual Sangha.
The people in this Sangha have been instrumental in helping me put together the Skeptical Readers of SL group and get it up and running. We’ve met the past couple of Sundays and talked about the book we are currently working on, “What The Buddha Taught” by Walpola Rahula.
From what I hear, this is the work that was recommended to many of those in the Sangha by their own teachers, when my Sangha-mates (yes, I made that up, sorry) were first starting their studies, so I’m encouraged that it’s a good starting point for the rest of us beginners too 🙂
I loved the energy of our talk! Chapter one of this book is pretty straightforward, with the major themes being clearly introduced and to me, mostly topics with which I was pretty familiar:
* The idea of questioning and inquiry (Don’t just take someone’s teachings on faith. Question, test and question again on your own. Be your own judge of the results. “Faith” and “belief” is not asked of anyone in Buddhism).
* Religious tolerance — The Buddha himself was open to other religions and accepting of those from other religions going to talk to him, learn from him, question him. He did not expect Buddhism to be the “one true” philosophy or way of life, never told other to turn away from the religions or faiths that they themselves may have held.
* Religious labels — There is only truth — no Christian Truth, no Islamic Truth, no Christian Love etc., just truth, just love. Truth can’t be claimed by any one school of thought, it’s more universal than that.
What I’m finding more challenging is with Chapter 5 so far, which looks at the Eightfold Path, which is the Fourth Noble Truth. I’ve only just really gotten a semi-grasp of these two thing: The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. I’m hoping that grasping those concepts is half the battle 🙂
I’m not sure what I need to do to get the eight parts of the Eightfold Path to stick in my memory (maybe that’s where some of that ritual chanting comes in? Not my bag, but perhaps it had this purpose at one time), but I find that part of things to be just as troubling as any of the concepts that are attached to them. I also have a hard time remembering the order in which they’re usually placed. Thank goodness one of my Sangha-mates (Jan Ford!) sent me a link to a Web site that I really liked — mainly because it was very simple and minimalist. That’s my style! Here it is for anyone who’d like to take a look at it too:
This topic also lead to — of course — a really great discussion among all of us. Some great questions were brought up, like the “Right Intentions” part of the Eightfold Path, among the many, many other topics of discussion that arose. How does one know if he or she is performing something with the right intention? The most interesting thing to me about this is that really, because of how this particular brand of Buddhism works, the only person who really knows, is YOU. Not a God, no deity, no lightning strike out of the sky or the gaping mouth of Hell awaiting you in the afterlife: You. You have to deal with YOU. THAT, to me, is daunting, but so refreshing at the same time.
Only *I* know why I’m doing something, the spirit in which I am doing it. I guess in a way, you could say that for all of the parts of the Eightfold Path. To me, this is the draw, this is the “thing” that brings me to Skeptical Buddhism. It’s that idea that I have to answer to me. I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know who I am, what I’ve done, and feel that I can love myself for those things.
What if more of us were to do that? Wouldn’t that be an amazing thing?
So far, I’m a terrible blogger — between meadering writings and not posting often, things aren’t looking good. Hopefully I’ll get some skills in this soon hahaha.