James: I've been reading the excellent blog, "Genkaku Again" for awhile now and always come away from reading his posts with a view of something that I hadn't noticed before. For example, I've often wondered about the authenticity of the canon's claiming to be the words of Buddha but I eventually realized that it's more important if the teachings work than who actually said them. So, when I read this post about the literal nature of Buddhist writings and teachings over at Genkaku's blog--I was riveted:
On a BBC Buddhist bulletin board, in a thread asking "what was the source of Buddha's wisdom?" one fellow, who describes himself as a "peaceful Muslim" posted this:
Do we have anything written by the Buddha himself; or you have guessed it simply in your imagination?I purely love the question because I purely love the answer that I come up with, i.e., yes, we have simply guessed it in our imaginations. Of course there is nothing written by Gautama Buddha himself any more than there is anything written by Jesus himself or, for all I know, Mohammad himself. Everything was written after the fact, usually out of a strong oral tradition, by disciples and friends and adherents. So it's all second hand at best. And even those who get the word straight from the horse's mouth -- who heard some exalted poo-bah uttering one pearl or another ... STILL we "guessed it" in our imaginations. And so it goes in all spiritual endeavor. Anything called "authentic" is not yet authentic because the one hearing it has not yet put it to the test.
I think this small bit of information should be mandatory in all classes or temples purporting to disseminate so-called religion: The teaching may be very fine indeed, the pointers may be very fine indeed, the wisdom may be very fine indeed ... but it's all second-hand stuff in a world where people yearn to live authentic and peaceful lives ... you know, living first-hand, so to speak.
Calling teachings second-hand stuff is not an insult. It is just an observation. Second-hand stuff can have wonderful pointers and directions. But it needs to be admitted that, yes, we guessed it in our imaginations ... right up until we put it to the test. No more second-hand lifestyle! Guessed it in our imaginations ... I love that.
James: This reminds me of the Kalama Sutra, which is one of my favorite sutras and is probably the one that the foundation of my Buddhist practice is anchored upon. As you can see, Genkaku is a great blogger, and insightful Buddhist. So, you'd find great benefit in adding him to your reader list.
PHOTO: Buddha teaching, found at Dharma Folk.