A Traditional Dhamma Talk On Finding True Happiness


How do we know if pari-nibbana exists? Like the speaker in this traditional dhamma talk video says, we have to have some faith or confidence that the effort of practicing the Buddha’s advice will be worth it in the long run. Do Buddhist doctrines have a beneficial impact when I internalise the message and strive to live up to it? That’s the real issue as far as I’m concerned.

 

 

A TRADITIONAL DHAMMA TALK ON FINDING TRUE HAPPINESS

I think this traditional Dhamma talk [1], given on 06th August 2017 in London, is a very good one.

I’m no linguist or etymologist but I especially liked [00:00:18] with the emphasis on stopping the rebirth cycle through Buddham saranam gacchāmi; Dhammam saranam gacchāmi; Sangham saranam gacchāmi  (i.e. “to the [Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha] for refuge [from samsara] I go”) and the deeper meaning of “saranam“. For sure, “going for refuge” traditionally meant so much more than merely going to a meditation teacher for some stress reduction therapy, as so often seems to me to be the case nowadays.

The traditional Buddhist classification of merits [00:09:15], with dhamma given by monastics and the laity’s offerings of food, robes, etc. to monastics scoring most highly in the merit-through-giving stakes, is an interesting one. The cynic in me can’t help seeing this classification as a bit convenient and self-serving for the Buddhist establishment. However, from his reading of ancient Buddhist stupas, Buddhologist Gregory Shopen [2] claims that architectural inscriptions predating the earliest known Buddhist texts by around 150 years indicate that Buddhist monks and served as sponsors and donors as well as the recipients of gifts, and the commonly made distinction between “popular” dhamma (religion) and “true” dhamma (philosophy) may not therefore be a true reflection of historical reality.

The idea of the profound meaning of true dhamma disappearing over time [00:23:43] is also an interesting one. I no longer believe that any one Buddhist tradition ever had the one true Buddhadhamma, and given the existential facts of anicca, dukkha, anatta I don’t see how it’s possible for any transformative religious doctrine to be forever preserved intact.

How do we know if pari-nibbana exists? Like the speaker says, we have to have some faith or confidence that the effort of practicing the Buddha’s advice will be worth it in the long run. Do Buddhist doctrines have a beneficial impact when I internalise the message and strive to live up to it? That’s the real issue as far as I’m concerned.

Notes

[1] Talk topics and playback times:

00:00:18 — The Three Jewels – The meaning of taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha.
00:01:46 — The Deeper meaning of Saranam.
00:05:63 — Problem with Celestial worlds- heavenly beings.
00:08:38 — Sabbadanam dhammadanam jinati – The gift of the Dhamma excels all gifts. 00:09:15 — Classification of merits.
00:12:53 — Cultivating Anicca Sanna excells all merits.
00:13:00 — Panna and Karuna Sasana.
00:16:00 — Finding true happiness.
00:18:47 — Meaning of Sangam Saranam.
00:23:43 — With time meaning of true dhamma starts to disappear.
00:26:00 — Importance of Reflecting the dhamma – biggest veneration you can do.
00:37:30 — Question – How do we know if para-nibbana exists.
00:38:00 — Faith- based on seeing the Dhamma.
00:40:08 — Nibbana- cooling down.
00:47:00 — You become Sotapana when you are listing to the Dhamma.
00:49:00 — How do you know if you are a Sotapana.
00:52:00 — Seeing Dhamma from day to day activities.

[2] Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks: Collected Papers on the Archaeology, Epigraphy, and Texts of Monastic Buddhism in India, by Gregory Shopen, University of Hawaii Press, 1997. (pp. 31-32)

[3] H/T Ravindra Madanayake (Sangha, Yahoo Groups)

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