The history of Buddhism ever since the Buddha’s teachings were first written down (c. 100 BCE) has been one of re-working his teachings to fit the different needs of different people living in different countries at different times. Consequently we have lots of early sermons (i.e. suttas or sutras) attributed to the Buddha – not just one sermon or a few sermons that we can cling to as good for every changing circumstance…
Quoting the Buddha is a popular internet pastime. However, quotes out of context aren’t much help to anyone, so here’s a brief commentary on two frequently quoted verses from the Dhammapada (1: 19-20)…
To see the Buddha “as he really is” we should explore some of the major episodes in his many lives and appreciate how Buddhist mythology, cosmology, and rituals, relate to one another. We’ll be less likely to view these doctrines as “popular Buddhism” – degeneration from reason (philosophy) to religion (mythology). Their truth isn’t a matter of historical/factual correctness – it’s a matter of the presence or absence of suffering when we internalise the message and strive to live up to it.
It’s not uncommon for Buddhists to feel like their practice has stalled. Concentration wavers, awareness is lost, doubts arise, and the Buddha’s supreme freedom from samsara seems hopelessly unattainable. It can be an especially trying time if you’re a solitary practitioner lacking the guidance of a skilled meditation teacher. But it’s also an opportunity to straighten your views and re-affirm your refuge in the Triple Gem.
Newcomers to Buddhism are frequently told that Buddhism isn’t a religion. However, one must employ a very narrow misunderstanding of the word religion in order to exclude Buddhism. Ancient Buddhist doctrine is suggestive of a polytheistic religion. Deities and devotional rites remain an important fact of Buddhist life as far as many practitioners in the heartlands of modern day Asia are concerned…
One might reasonably expect the long history of scholarly endeavours to have shed some light on the Buddha’s life and teachings. Unfortunately, the evidence such as it exists is inconclusive and liable to provoke scepticism and hostility even among Buddhists. The historical Buddha remains an enigmatic figure and it raises a number of questions that need untangling and addressing…
The Noble Search sutta offers some excellent Dhamma lessons and also mentions a few incidents in the Buddha’s life that are found nowhere else in the Sutta Pitaka.
The Four Noble Truths sutta was the first teaching given by the Buddha after his awakening. In this teaching, the Buddha presented his enlightened understanding as a set of ennobling truths which not only diagnosed the human condition as ‘suffering’ but also prescribed a cure. On first hearing the Buddha’s diagnosis we might be tempted to object that it is overly pessimistic. Either the Buddha is mistaken or he’s a killjoy!
An Introductory Course on Early Buddhism
Compiled and published for free distribution
by Bro. Chan Khoon San