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
“The footsteps of the Buddha lead to a descent from the delusion of feeling ourselves to be at the controlling pinnacle and centre of the universe, to accepting the fact that we are simply no more than a grain of sand, a subsystem, a temporary and local autonomous mechanism that functions as part of a much bigger system, itself autonomous. This process of coming to terms with these immutable facts is the ‘spiritual path’.” – Dr Desmond Biddulph
“The journey of five thousand miles starts with a single step and so it is with the spiritual path… There are three stages: listening with the ear, reflecting in the heart and then putting into practice… We can obstruct, but if the obstructions are removed or dropped through following in the instructions of the Buddha then the heart unfolds according to its nature.” – Dr Desmond Biddulph
THERAVADA BUDDHISM IN A NUTSHELL
Adapted from a talk given during a November 1997 retreat at the Angela Center, Santa Rosa, California.