Questions on the selected Subject, selected Topic:

What is the nature of Buddhism?

Other Topics Under selected SUBJECT:

2. Merit and Goodness in Society
3. Kamma (and Merit)
4. Developing along Path, Details & Elaborations
5. Meditation
6. More perspective and perspectives
7. Stages on the Path to Enlightenment
8. Requisites of Enlightenment & Concepts Overview

SUBJECT: II. Comprehensive Intro. to Buddhism (from the Buddha and B. Bodhi)


Topic: 1. Unsub-divided General Information

The currently selected QUESTION:

What is the nature of Buddhism?


[ NOTE: Most of the MAIN text under these Topics is a summary of
B. Bodhi's ... Anthology ..., 2005). BUT, the Comments come from SEVERAL
other sources of the words of the Buddha. ]
[ Though very much of this main body of these summaries of Buddhism comes
from B. Bodhi and his Anthology, when particular Nikyas are specifically
mentioned or other books and/or authors are specifically quoted (or
paraphrased), these are ADDITIONAL sources interjected in to the main body
of these Summaries. ]

General Information on Buddhism:

* appeals to personal experience as ultimate criterion for determining validity

* directness, thoroughness, tough reasoning: hard facts of experience

* naturalistic, startling in realism, bare in naturism; [seek to] strikingly convey
“deep” with minimal description

* Buddhahood is intrinsic in our nature, though one must be consciously motivated
to attain Buddhahood

* ethical self-discipline and self-cultivation

* 3 roots of evil: greed, hatred, delusion

* Chain of Causation (of suffering):
In dependence upon feeling: craving
In dependence upon craving: pursuit
In dependence upon pursuit: gain
In dependence upon gain: decision-making
In dependence upon decision-making: desire and lust
In dependence on desire and lust: attachment
(and dependent on attachment is possessiveness – related to laziness and

* hatred from envy (from distortions that affect perception and cognitive process, [and]
the information of the senses); envy is related to liking and disliking (that
from desire and desire from thinking <-- from elaborated perceptions and notions)

* hindered by ignorance and fettered by cravings, there is no end to suffering

* initial response sought: ethical resolution to turn from unwholesome and embrace

* Via mental training comes mindfulness and clear comprehension (these overcome
dread of painful)

* Success [in society] comes from accumulation of merit and the 3 or 4 bases of merit are:
giving (value proportionate to the worthiness of recipient(s))
moral discipline
meditation (mental development)
And, greatest amidst these is: loving-kindness

* 4 Noble Truths:
(1) The truth of suffering is to be fully understood [(eventually)]
[(normal human life is filled with suffering)]. Suffering is related to
[unwanted] change and the [unwanted] impermanence of all things
(2) The truth of the suffering's origin (craving) is to be abandoned
(3) The truth of the cessation of suffering is to be realized
(4) The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering is to be developed

* Buddha understood both path to supreme state (enlightenment) and path to
various types of wholesome, mundane happiness

* 8-Fold Path (noble):
right view
right intention
right speech
right action
right livelihood
right effort
right mindfulness
right concentration

* While the Buddha did teach doctrines that an ordinary person (unenlightened)
cannot directly confirm, faith involves a freedom from secrecy that gives
primacy to direct experience. Buddha's teaching can only be realized via
achievement of extraordinary types of experience.

* Yet Buddhism does not require one begin by faith in doctrines outside the range
of immediate experience. Rather deal with one's present condition via asking
a few simple questions regarding our immediate welfare and that we can
answer via personal experience (with intelligent observations as criterion)

* Hope (faith) is not sufficient because we must understand conditions on which
well-being depends (ascertain causes). Causes of suffering and conditions
for its cessation outlines the entire process.

* It is proper to doubt, given “where you are” BUT do not rely on :
scriptural authority,
certain rational grounds ([just] logic, certain inferential reasoning, reasoned
cogitation, or acceptance of a view),
or on authoritative person(s) alone.

* Skillful methods of inquiry lead to understanding basic principles (that they can vary
by one's own experience) -- this is a sure starting point for spiritual development

* Both wholesome and unwholesome [states] are here and now. Once the wholesome
is seen, the immediately visible consequences of unwholesome states is seen
(and benefits of wholesome states become motivation for cultivating them).

* Even if you cannot directly see the Buddha's mind, you can see via indirect
evidence that is free from defilements (via observational inference).

* Good path, once established, is irreversible; preservation of the truth, via discovery
of truth, begins by faith in a good teacher. Still, faith is rooted in investigation
and inquiry (faith is just a spur to practice).

* To be devoid of covetousness (greed, envy): have to [(find)] loving-kindness (also:
devoid of ill-will and unconfused and clearly comprehending). One should
also develop and come to have: compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity

* Suffering is rooted in desire (craving); complex wholesome state is only achieved
over a long time

* There are successively higher levels and sublime levels of realizing the Dhamma
[(real reality (or realities))**]. Buddha teaches in this way through direct
knowledge. Accepting some truth but not rejecting others; no definite conclusion.

* Resolutely striving, one realizes “with the body” the supreme truth -- this way one
discovers and can describe the truth -- yet there is no final arrival at the truth.
(Repetition, development, and cultivation is involved in all this.)

* Three perspectives on each of the 4 noble truths: (1) illuminate the nature of the
truth (e.g. the truth of suffering); (2) understanding each truth imposes a
particular task (e.g. cessation of suffering requires craving abandoned) ; and
(3) for the task to be realized (accomplished). All this is necessary for (4),
the path to be developed. Understanding these four functions regarding the
4 Noble Truths requires all of the above in-full.

* Higher types of meditation, followed by higher types of knowledge: Tracing back
suffering to conditions (discovery of dependent origination [(conditioned pattern
in dependence upon which suffering arises and ceases IS the realization of
dependent origination)]).

* Arriving at truth:
Scrutiny is most helpful for striving (and arriving at truth)
Application of will most helpful for (to have) scrutiny
Desire most helpful for (to have) application of will
Acceptance of teaching and pondering most helpful for desire
Examination of meaning most helpful for pondering (& accepting teaching)
Memorization most helpful for examination of meaning
Hearing Dhamma most helpful for memorization, which ...
... one must hear through paying respect,
and respect most helped by faith

** Dhamma: immanent invariable order in which truth, lawful regularity, and virtue
are inextricably merged; reflected in the human mind as aspiration for truth,
beauty, goodness and, in conduct, by wholesome action; guides people toward
proper conduct. Dhamma is objective, impersonal, ever-existent principle of
order (from a B. Bodhi Intro., ... Anthology ..., 2005 p. 108).

There are ways the Dhamma applies to humans still immersed in the world.

Buddha teaches how to live in accordance with the Dhamma (realized
through Enlightenment).

* “Three benefits” of Buddha's teaching (in ascending order of goodness):
-- welfare, moral commitments, and social responsibilities
-- welfare and happiness obtained via meritorious deeds
-- fully developing the 8-fold path

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Added by Brad on Fri 23rd January 2015 1.21PM

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