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13.08.13 : Dharma Pointer | Does Buddhism Always Talk About Suffering? | Importance Of Teaching Appropriately

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  • NamoAmituofo
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    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 13 12:44 AM
      The Daily Enlightenment
       Quote: Dharma Pointer

      If you only use the Dharma
      for pointing out others' mistakes,
      instead of for self-reflection,
      you will never benefit from the Dharma -
      even if you learn it for countless lifetimes.

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       Realisation: Why Does Buddhism Always Talk About Suffering?

      Without mindfulness
      of the effects of suffering,
      there is no mindfulness of its causes.

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      Well, it is not true at all that Buddhism focuses only on suffering. If we look into the actual contents of the Four Noble Truths, which summarise the essence of the Buddha's teachings for beginners, only the first truth is about suffering. The second is about the causes of suffering. The third is about the end of suffering. And the fourth is about the path to the end of suffering. In this sense, Buddhism is only one-quarter about suffering – despite the word 'suffering' appearing four times in this context. Although highlighted in the First Noble Truth, there is no mention that we are condemned to suffer forever. Suffering is defined clearly only for recognition and comprehension, so as to lead to the Second, Third and Fourth Noble Truths – to know its causes (to uproot them), to know it can be ended (to have a target and a sense of hope), and to know how to end it (to realise True Happiness; which the opposite of suffering). If Buddhism talks only about suffering, the Buddha would have stopped teaching at the First Noble Truth!

      Sometimes, it is mistaken that we have to become perfect, exactly like Buddhas, in order to have no suffering. Of course, to attain 100% True Happiness, we do have to become Buddhas. However, there is a sliding scale – it is not all or nothing. It does not mean that we can only be totally unhappy before Buddhahood. To the extent that we practise the Dharma well, is the extent that we are happy too. This is why the Buddha also spoke about the increasingly experienceable spiritual bliss arising from progress towards enlightenment in terms of Arhathood, Bodhisattvahood and Buddhahood in many instances – to motivate us to advance towards them through cultivation of our body, speech and mind. There is also joy arising from various Dharma practices in everyday life, such as acts of generosity and meditation. In addition, in almost 300 sutras (which is about 13% of the Tripitaka), the Buddha spoke about the opposite of suffering; the Ultimate Bliss (极乐) in Amituofo's (Amitabha Buddha) Pure Land with training there.

      In the Buddhist community, there are many excellent examples of well-practised Buddhists who are visibly spiritually happy, some despite their physically long-suffering circumstances – such as great Tibetan masters living in exile. Also, the most iconic visual representation of Buddhism is the image of the Buddha smiling with calm, clear and definite happiness. So influential is it, that even many non-Buddhists find his smile aesthetically pleasing and spiritually soothing. Indeed, Buddhism is not essentially about suffering, but more on transcending it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as results of recent scientific studies and surveys show. With advanced neurotechnological techniques, it has been revealed that positive emotions are the strongest and most stable in diligent Buddhist practitioners – both generally (e.g. Bhutanese) and specifically, in terms of individuals (Venerable Mattheiu Ricard). These encouraging reports remind us that with practice, we will eventually realise True Happiness like the Buddhas did!

      Without mindfulness
      of the goal of True Happiness,
      there is no mindfulness of its path.

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      Related Courses:
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      The Mindfulness Factor: How To Be Mindful Of Buddha Purely

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       Excerpt: The Importance Of Teaching Appropriately

      Although there are many Dharma doors,
      each more appropriate for some,
      there are also some Dharma doors,
      the most appropriate for most.

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      When Buddha Sakyamuni was alive, during his many travels, a group of devotees sought to join His order. He assigned two of the most promising to Mahakasyapa, who is high in wisdom among the Arhats. Mahakasysapa accordingly taught the first disciple breath meditation (to counter mind-scattering) and assigned to the second disciple meditation on corpses (to extinguish desire).

      A long time elapsed however but despite their best efforts, neither of the two achieved any breakthrough. The Buddha, having learnt of this, met with them and asked the first one: "When you were at home, before you cut your hair, what was your family doing for a living?" "Lord Buddha, my father and my grandfather before him were gate-keepers at our local charnel ground (cemetery)," came the reply.

      "And what were you doing for a living?" the Buddha inquired of the other. "Since a young age, I helped my father in his work," came the reply. "I fanned the fire in my father's kiln." The Buddha then and there decided to switch the meditation topics of the disciples based on their previous experiences. The first one was reassigned the meditation on corpses and the second the counting of the breath practice. In a short time, both made significant progress and ultimately achieved liberation.

      This story illustrates the crucial role of a good spiritual advisor – as even Mahakasyapa could err. Since Buddha Amitabha (Amituofo) and the highest Bodhisattvas themselves are teachers and guides in Sukhavati Pure Land (the Land of Ultimate Bliss), the Buddha taught that rebirth in this Pure Land is the safest shortcut to Buddhahood.

      Related Courses:
      Understanding Amituofo Via The Amitabha Sutra(12th Run)
      The Mindfulness Factor: How To Be Mindful Of Buddha Purely

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