Wednesday, June 6, 2012



Part iv

The Buddha’s teachings
The first simile compares  Buddha to the sun, for his appearance in the world is like the sun rising over the horizon. His teaching of the true Dhamma is like the net of the sun’s rays spreading out over the earth, dispelling the darkness and cold of the night, giving warmth and light to all beings. The sun is very high and far from us, how can we apply the sun’s light and  heat to our lives?

Chapter xi

History of  philosophy, religion and politics is a history of  separation, change or development. There are two tendencies. When some people want to change, to improve following the development, and demand of their time, the others want to conserve their tradition. They discussed, even killed each other. At one time at an Ghosita's monastery in Kosambi, after hearing the stories of some groups of Brahmins who had disputed and quarrelled among themselves, the Blessed One said to  his disciplines: 
Bhikkhus, there are six things which conduce to reverence, unity, friendliness and love for each other. What six: Here, bhikkhus, the bhikkhu should be established in bodily actions of loving kindness towards co-associates in the holy life openly and secretly. .  . Again, the bhikkhus should be established in verbal actions of loving kindness towards co-associates in the holy life openly and secretly. Again the bhikkhus should be established in mental actions of loving kindness towards co-associates in the holy life openly and secretly. .  . Again bhikkhus, gain rightfully obtained, as far as what is put into the bowl, the bhikkhu would not partake without sharing equally with the co-associates in the holy life.  .  .Again the bhikkhus becomes equal in virtues with the co-associates in the holy life openly and secretly.  .   .  Again the bhikkhus become equal with the co-associates in the holy life in the noble view that leads to the beyond.. .   .. This too is a thing that conduces to reverence, unity, friendliness and love for each other. Bhikkhus, these are the six things that conduces to reverence, unity, frendliness and love for each other. [1]     

After the Second Council, many Buddhist schools raised. Each school had a number of followers. Following the Buddha’s teachings, we have to go to reverence, unity, friendliness and love for each other. The World Fellowship of Buddhists was founded in 1950 in Colombo, Sri Lanka by representatives from 27 nations. It now has regional centers in 35 countries, including India, the United States, Australia, and several nations of Africa and Europe, in addition to traditional Buddhist countries.  It is a wonderful occasion for the union of the international Buddhism.  On the other hand, we also live in harmony with other schools and  other religions in reverence , friendliness and love for each other  .
            In Buddhism, there is a profound reason. Some monks in the olden time realized that a lot of people could not practice Zen, so they opened  many new ways for many kinds of Buddhist. Therefore many Buddhist schools  have risen such as Theravada, Tibetan Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism and Zen . Avatamsaka Sutra  (The Flower Adornment Sutra) suggested the Ten Inexhaustible Treasuries, or ten ways  to follow Buddha s’ teachings:
  1.  The Treasury of Belief
  2.  The Treasury of Precepts
  3.  The Treasury of Shame
  4.  The Treasury of Remorse
  5.  The Treasury of Learning
  6.  The Treasury of Giving
  7.  The Treasury of Wisdom
  8.  The Treasury of Mindfulness
  9.  The Treasury of Upholding
     10.   The Treasury of Eloquence[2]

            In general, those ways are not different from the  Buddha s’ teachings. Thanks to the freedom of expression, and thoughts, many Buddhist schools developed. The development of Buddhism  leads to the development of  philosophy , arts and literature.


     theism and ATHEISM

Some priests of some religions and some Buddhists considered that Buddhism is atheism. In early Ancient Greek, the adjective (θεος, from the privative - + θεός "god") meant "godless". In English, the term atheism was derived from the French athéisme in about 1587. The term atheist (from Fr. athée), in the sense of "one who denies or disbelieves the existence of God", predates atheism in English, being first attested in about 1571. Most recently, there has been a push in certain philosophical circles to redefine atheism negatively, as the "absence of belief in deities’’. A numbers of the atheists assume that theism and religion are equivalent. The Marxists disgusted religion, and considered religion as opium. There is also a conflict between religion and science because the scientists criticized that the theists have no prove of their God‘s existence.  Some philosophers denied God, they said that God was dead. .  .. In a word, the atheists deny all the metaphysical matters including God and Gods. 

There are some discussions about religions. Different cultures caused different opinions. Western scholars focused on God, although each religion has it own God and their own notion of God.  In the Eastern culture, religion is a path to truth, and God is not their goal.  The Western scholars  affirmed the existence of an omnipotent God, the creator of the world or of the human race. Some scholars considered Buddhism as atheistic because of many reasons:
(1). Buddhism is a religion without God or Gods.
(2).The Buddha denied Atman, a permanent soul. According to the Brahman philosophy, God is the great Atman, and man, the little Atman. Atman of man and Atman of the universe are one. Buddhism insists that the soul  is not a rigid, unchanging, self-constituted entity, but a living, complex, changing.
(3).The law of cause and effect, and the law of ‘’Dependent Origination’’ are like the scientific laws, that make no appeal to the idea of creator God. The phenomena arise as the result of preceding causes and in turn become the causes of future phenomena themselves.
(4). Nibbana is only a state of mind.
On the contrary, Buddhism is not atheistic because the Buddhists believe in the existence of the afterlife, and Nibbana. All religions have the same goal of hapiness for their afterlife. When the goal of  many religions is  God or Gods in the Heaven, the Buddhists  try to attain  Nirbana, where is the endless of Sufferings. Buddhist cosmology recognizes various levels and types of gods (devas), and  the worlds of God (Heavens)  are the happy places but none of these gods is considered the creator of the world or of the human race. Even though a Creator God is not affirmed, the existence of gods is affirmed: in many passages in the Tripitaka, Gotama Buddha spoke about gods and gave specific examples of individuals who were reborn as a god, or gods who were reborn as humans. Such beings are not eternal and are subject to death and eventual rebirth into lower realms of existence. Anyway, the worlds of Gods are the happiest places in six destinations. Moreover, Gods,  Buddha and Buddhists have  had a close relationship:

Lord, those gods who arose in the heaven of the Thirty-Three before I did have told me and assured me that whenever a Tathágata, a fully enlightened Arahant Buddha arises in the world, the ranks of Devas increase, and those of asuras decline in numbers. In fact I have witnessed this myself. There was, Lord, right here in Kapilavatthu a Sakyan girl called Gopika who had faith in the Buddhas, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, and who observed the precepts scrupulously. She rejected the status of a woman and developed the thought of becoming a man. Then, after her death, at the breaking up of the body, she went to a happy destination, being reborn in a heaven state among the Thirty Three Gods, as one of our sons, becoming known as Gopaka the devas’ son.[3]

Although some religious scholars and  Buddhist monks insist that  the Buddha is neither  God nor  incarnation of God,  the Buddha is not  a regular man, but a supernatural being. In this world,  Gotama  is the Buddha, and in his previous lives, he had been also Buddha. He recalled his varied lots in former existences as follows:
Monks, ninety-one aeons ago the Lord, the Arahant, the fully enlightened Buddha Vipassi arose in the world. Thirty-one aeons ago, the Lord Buddha Sikhi arose; in the same thirty-first aeon before this Lord Buddha Vessabhu arose. And in this present fortunate aeon the Lord Buddhas Kakusandha, Konagamana, and Kassapa arose in the world. And, monks, in this present fortunate aeon I too have now arisen in the world as a fully enlightened Buddha    [4]    

Gotama Buddha is known as being a "teacher of the gods and humans", superior to both the gods and humans in the sense of having nirvana or the greatest bliss (whereas the devas or gods of the Vedic era were still subject to anger, fear, sorrow, etc.).  Many sutras recorded the conversations between the  Buddha and the gods. And the gods respected the Buddha so much: 

Then Sakka, the deva-king, touched the earth with his hand and said three times, "Homage to the Worthy One, the Blessed One, the Rightly Self-awakened One! Homage to the Worthy One, the Blessed One, the Rightly Self-awakened One! Homage to the Worthy One, the Blessed One, the Rightly Self-awakened One!" 
While this explanation was being given, there arose to Sakka the dustless, stainless Dhamma eye -- "Whatever is subject to origination is all subject to cessation" -- as it also did to [his following of] 80,000 other devas. [5]

The most significant Northern Buddhism innovation was the view of the Buddha as a supernatural being who assumed a transformation body (nirmana-kaya) to be born as the historical Buddha. Some Northern Buddhism sutras envision the Buddha as the "god above the gods", as a primal, eternal, sustaining essence within all beings and phenomena, while some Tantras paint a portrait of the Buddha on a cosmological scale and in cosmogonic terms as the emanator of all universes. In Pure Land Buddhism, by the power of his vows, Amitābha has made it possible for all who call upon him to be reborn into this land. Avalokiteśvara or Avalokiteshvar is the most widely revered bodhisattva in Buddhism. Avalokita is perceiver of the suffering sound of the worlds. In East Asia, Avalokiteśvara is known as 觀音 Guan Yin or Kannon/Kanzeon, the Goddess of Mercy, and is generally represented as female.

 In Vietnam, people have beliefs in the Buddha and Guan Yin, and in a lot of fairy stories, the Buddha appeared and saved  poor  people. In the heart of Vietnamese people, and in literature, Buddha and Avalokiteśvaras were the kind faces,  the  supernatural beings, who love them and  protect them.
In general, Buddha was a  "teacher of the gods and humans", superior to both the gods and humans. Buddhism is not atheist nor theist. Buddhism is a middle way between two extremes. Buddhism is a religion of love and wisdom.

                        SELF  reliance AND
 faith   in god  or goods

Faith in God or Gods is an important factor in many religions. Many people believe in God or Gods,  because God and  Gods are just and kind. Therefore, God or Gods can not  protect the wicked persons: 皇天無親惟德是輔
 God is impartial, God always helps  the virtuous persons  [6] 
Confucius said:
When you have offended against Heaven, there is nowhere you can turn to in your prayers.' [7]

The decisive cause  and result of our life is our personality, our virtues and our deeds.  The Buddha always taught his disciples to try to be as self reliant as possible, not to become dependent upon God or other forces.
Householder, it is not suitable that the noble disciple should long for fame or take pleasure in fame; rather he should fall to the method conducive to fame, either heavenly or human.[8]   

In the last day of his life, the Buddha taught Ananda:

33. Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto yourselves, seeking no external refuge; with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge. [9]       

If a Buddhist want to attain Nirvana, he has to fulfill his duties: performing virtues and practicing meditation by effort, earnestness and self-control:
"One who is aroused to practice is one of conviction, not without conviction. One aroused to practice is one with persistence aroused, not lazy. One aroused to practice is one of established mindfulness, not muddled mindfulness. One aroused to practice is centered in concentration, not uncentered. One aroused to practice is discerning, not undiscerning.   [10]

               Buddha was open minded; he always showed us the middle way.  Self confidence and self striving are very necessary for us. It is our main strength to aim our goal, but  sometimes  we also need help of  others  Besides the self confidence, the Buddhists need the help of the Buddha, and other forces such as the Dhamma, Bodhisattva, even  God:

Furthermore, there is the case where you recollect the Dhamma: 'The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One.  .. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated
   "Furthermore, there is the case where you recollect your own virtues: '[They are] untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, conducive to concentration Furthermore, you should recollect the devas: 'There are the devas of the Four Great Kings, the devas of the Thirty-three, the devas of the Hours, the Contented Devas, the devas who delight in creation, the devas who have power over the creations of others, the devas of Brahma's retinue, the devas beyond them [11]  
                   There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with verified confidence in the Awakened One.  . . the Teacher of divine and human beings, awakened, blessed.' .  .  .  .

Furthermore, the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with verified confidence in the Dhamma: 'The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One. .  .Furthermore, the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with verified confidence in the Sangha: 'The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples who have practiced well . .  . These are four bonanzas of merit, bonanzas of skillfulness, nourishments of bliss."   [12]
                In reality, the Buddha used his power to help a lot of people. The Buddha helped Moggalàna when he practiced meditation. He told us his story:
            Friends, then I secluded the mind from sensual desires and thoughts of demerit and with logical reasoning and investigation and with pleasant joy born of seclusion raised my mind to the first high stage. When abiding in the first high stage of the mind, sensual perceptions and thoughts assailed me.
            Then the Blessed One approached me by psychic power and said: `Moggallana, Noble Man! Do not be negligent! Establish, concentrate and bring the mind to one point in the first high stage.'
            Friends, in the meantime I secluded the mind from sensual desires and thoughts of demerit and with logical reasoning and investigation, with pleasant joy born of seclusion raised my mind to the first high stage and abode.
           Friends, saying it correctly, I am the disciple, who attained great wisdom, with the compassionate help of the Teacher.   [13]    

The Buddha also  saved Angulimala, a killer, he wore a garland (mala) made of fingers[14] .And by the power of compassion,  the Buddha saved a lot of women who later became the Arahants [15]
The Northern Buddhism emphacized the faith in Buddhha and Bodhisattva such as Amitābha  and Guanyin.   Through his efforts , Amitābha created the "Pure Land" called Sukhāvatī (Sanskrit: "possessing happiness") . Sukhāvatī is situated in the uttermost west, beyond the bounds of our own world. By the power of his vows, Amitābha has made it possible for all who call upon him to be reborn into this land, there to undergo instruction by him in the dharma and ultimately become bodhisattvas and buddhas in their turn (the ultimate goal of Mahāyāna Buddhism). From there, these same bodhisattvas and buddhas return to our world to help yet more people.  Guanyin  which means Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World".

               In a book entitled Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana, Aśvaghosa (?80-?150 CE), an Indian philosopher-poet, said that from the beginning of the holly life to first day in Nirvana,  we must need the help of the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas  (11)

8).  In Practice of Zen, Chang Chen Chi wrote: some Buddhists failed due to lack of faith  (335).
Buddhism is a religion of wisdom, and will. The main  path of Buddhism  is self reliance but  the religious faith in supernatural beings is also a second factor in our life.  Thank to the help of the Buddha  and  the Bodhisattvas, we will succeed  easily. But first of all, we must distinguish the main factor from the dependent one. The self reliance is  one  characteristic of Buddhism.
European proverb said:
Help yourself, God will help you" Aide toi. Dieu t'aidera’’.  Here  West meets  East. This is the middle way in Buddhism, the middle way between theism and atheism.


                  nililism and sunyata
            There were many sects with its own philosophy and practices in Brahmanism about the 5th century BC.  Makhali Gosala, Keshakambalin, and the Jains were the contemporaries of the Buddha. They discussed together about some metaphysic topics and  put many counter questions to the Buddha, but the Bless One did not answer them. Some people considered Buddha as a Nihilist, because the Buddha taught the change of things. The Buddha also denied the self, feelings and sensation:
Ananda, matter is impermanent, compounded and arise dependently and it is of the nature of withering, fading, loosing interest and ceasing. The cessation of that is cessation..  . . Feelings..  . .  perceptions and intentions are impermanent, compounded and arise dependently and are of the nature of withering, fading, loosing interest and ceasing. The cessation of those is cessation. .  .   . 
Consciousness is impermanent, that which is impermanent is unpleasant, and that which is unpleasant is not self. That which is not self is not mine, it is not I or my self. This should be seen as it really is, with right wisdom. [16]    

Because many people want to be rich forever, not to be poor, beautiful not to be fade, healthy not to be sick, therefore Buddha had to tell them the law of change, birth, aging, death, and  sorrow which  are the real facts in our life and world, nobody can avoid them. If they understand the Four Noble Truths, they will be happy. Moreover,  Buddha  was a moralist, he  encouraged  people to do good, not evils. Unfortunately, some Brahmins accused  Buddha as nihilist,  so  he denied that accusation:
37.  'So saying, bhikkhus, so proclaiming, I have been baselessly, vainly, falsely, and wrongly misrepresented by some recluses and brahmins thus: 'The recluse Gotama is one who leads astray; he teaches the annihilation, the destruction, the extermination of the existent being.'.[17]

23. Bhikkhus, these two cloud the words of the Thus Gone One Which two? The one who says the not uttered and not muttered by the Thus Gone One . . and the one who says the uttered and muttered by the Thus Gone One .  .  .. Brahmin, I preach doing and not doing. How does good Gotama preach doing and not doing? Brahmin, I say do not do misconduct by body, words and mind and I say do no demeritorious thinking in any of the various spheres, develop good conduct by body, words and mind and I say do meritorious thinking in any of the various spheres. Brahmin, thus I say I preach doing and not doing.[18]
 In fact, the concept of Sunyata was rarely encountered  in early Pali text. After  Buddha, Sunyata was further developed by Nagarjuna and the Madhyamaka school, which is usually counted as an early Mahayana school. Anyhow, Buddhist Sunyata is different from nihinism. Sunyata (Sanskrit) or Kuu, (Chinese) generally translated into English as "Emptiness" or "Voidness". It is different from the doctrine of Nihilism, but widely misconceived as a doctrine of nihilism
Sunyata signifies that everything is inter-related and mutually dependent - never wholly self-sufficient or independent.  Sunyata is similar to I Ching, the Book of Change [19], a dualistic yin-yang doctrine. In our world, there are many pairs of contradiction. Hegel, Engels, Lenin, Mao Zedong also focused on the contradiction such as Labor and capital, workers and peasants, the old and the new, offence and defense, advance and retreat, victory and defeat. .  

.When the Marxists conclude that contradiction means struggle, the new force destroys the old one, and contradiction is the fundamental cause of its development.  But  in the philosophy of Sunyata, I Ching and  Tao Te Ching[20], contradiction between things is relative. Yin and yang are not contrary absolutely because Yin and Yang live together in one thing. Inter-penetration allows the presence of yin in the interior of yang and yang inside yin. In the philosophy of Sunyata, the Emptiness is relative. For example, the sky is the empty but in fact it is not, because it offers clouds to our perception, and it has sun, moon, stars and many kinds of gaz. The Heart Sutra said:

               form is emptiness and the very emptiness is form ,emptiness does not differ from form, form does not differ from emptiness, whatever is emptiness, that is   form, the same is true of feelings, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness.[21]

卽是空, 空卽是
Sunyata is a philosophy based on a new logic. At the beginning of the ancient philosophy, Aristotle’s law of non-contradiction states that one cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time. On the contrary, Heraclitus said "I am as I am not". Heraclitus, Buddha, Lao Tsu, and Nagarjuna[22] built e new dialectic based on the contradiction and dualism : A  is not-A. not-A exists already in A  , or becomes  a part of A. 
According to these philosophers, change is real, and stability illusory. From Nagarjuna, Sunyata transformed.  The Book of Change said A in B, B in A, but Nagarjuna  and his followers  said A  is B. About the 5th century AC, the Sunyata became a fashion , and the philosophers at that time focused on no distinction between things such as good and evils,  being and not being. In Diamond Sutra, there are a lot of paradoxical  and irrational phrases:  

what is called the highest teaching is not the highest teaching"  . .   . "Subhuti, the Thus Come One says that particles of dust are not particles of dust. Therefore they are called particles of dust. The Thus Come One says that world systems are not world systems. Therefore they are called world systems. "Subhuti, what do you think, is it possible to see the Thus Come One in his Thirty-two Physical Appearances?" "No World Honored One, it is not possible see the Thus Come One in his Thirty-two Physical Appearances. Why? The Thus Come One says that the Thirty-two Physical Appearances are not physical appearances. Therefore they are called the Thirty-two Physical Appearances [23]

Bodhidharma [24]was paradoxical too. One of the fundamental Zen texts attributed to Bodhidharma is a four-line stanza whose first two verses echo the Lankāvatāra Sūtra's disdain for words and whose second two verses stress the importance of the insight into reality achieved through "self-realization":
A special transmission outside the scriptures,
Not founded upon words and letters;
By pointing directly to [one's] mind
It lets one see into [one's own true] nature and [thus] attain Buddhahood

He  wrote a lot of books and taught many disciples, but he put forth the techniques of "direct pointing" at ‘’non-verbal reality’’直指真心,見性- -不立文字. Those techniques caused the waves of objection even among the monks. Huineng [25]said:
The nihilists disdain letters and sutras and insist not to use letters.. If they do not use letters, they should   not speak too, because speaking is a form of letters.[26]  

Because of Nihilism and extremist Sunyata, a number of masters forbid his disciples  from reading sutras. Huineng said:
The sutras have no fault, why did they forbid reading sutras? When read the sutras, we would  have awareness and criticism.  We are not the slave s of sutras .. [27]
In fact, in Buddhism, there are many levels of  Sunyata. Huineng  also followed  Sunyata, but he was not an extremist: In a poem,  Huineng expressed his thought of Emptiness:
菩提本無樹   Bodhi really has no tree,
明鏡亦非台   Nor is clear mirror the stand
本來無一物   Nothing's there initially
何處惹塵埃   So where can the dust motes land?
Huineng's central insight is in pointing out the transient or "illusory" nature of the physical world. "Bodhi has no tree,"  because our immortal souls are an entity apart from the physical bodies we inhabit temporarily. Wisdom, awakening and enlightenment are the attributes of this immaterial spirit, and exist with or without the body. The true road is the road of intuitive insight, where we progress beyond logic and reasoning. How can we traverse this path? With our entire being, rather than just one hemisphere of the brain. Too much intellectual sophistry leads nowhere except to more confusing and confounding complexity. Huineng was poor and illiterate, with no special education, His story declared that the enlightenment is not related with the school education[28]. The enlightenment is what one awakes to, that cannot be earned.
Huineng always focused on Emptiness:
What is Maha? It means 'great'. The capacity of the mind is as great as that of space. It is infinite, neither round nor square, neither great nor small, neither green nor yellow, neither red nor white, neither above nor below, neither long nor short, neither angry nor happy, neither right nor wrong, neither good nor evil, neither first nor last. All Buddha-Lands are as empty as space. Intrinsically our transcendental nature is empty and not a single dharma (thing, phenomena) can be attained. It is the same with the Essence of Mind, which is a state of 'Absolute Emptiness' (i.e., the Emptiness of Form) [29]
He also emphasized the path of intuition and criticized the incapacity of words:
The truth and the words are two different things.
The words can be compared with a finger. We can show the moon with a finger, but the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon means to look over the finger. The words are like a finger pointing towards the truth. Generally speaking, we see only the finger. The truth abide over the finger. Furthermore, Buddha-nature is not the fruit of one's efforts; it can not be earned by virtue - namely a moral, virtuous life - or by study. It represents the inborn quality of mind, given to all people with no exception, whereon all of us should get awaken. The awakening is not a mediate, but a sudden, instantaneous process  [30]

Many Buddhists were influenced by Taoist philosophy. Sunyata is similar to Tao Te Ching, so Buddhism has been in harmony with Taoism.
In fact, Nagarjuna, Bohdidharma, and Huineng  use the dialectic  as a method for pointing out the relativity of any metaphysical premise, and the ineffectiveness of words. The philosophers at that time emphasized the importance of the "self-realization", and  intuition. 
In general, Buddha was not nihilist and extremist because of many reasons:
1.      the difference of things:
The Buddha‘s philosophy reflect reality. His philosophy and morality are very clear, and true. He realized  exactly th essence of things. He was not extreme and mistaken like the other philosophers.
 Bhikkhus, these four things are far apart.
The sky and earth are far removed, so too the two shores of the great ocean,
The sun rises and sets far away, the Teaching of the mind is different from other teachings.
The association with the mind is stable and stays as long as life lasts.
The Teaching not associated with the mind wanes quickly
Therefore the Teaching of the mind is far removed from other teachings. [31]

By the influence of  Sunyata,  a lot of philosophers focused on the no-distinction. Indeed, on the view of morality, and politics, sometimes we cannot have distinction such as distinction of class, rank, race, etc because everybody is equal. But in science, philosophy and morality, the distinction is one of  the fundamental elements of knowledge and wisdom. 

The Buddha is not nihilist because  he always encourage  his disciples to perform good deeds. He affirms Heaven, Hell and the wheel of life of every being, and Nirvana is the happiest world. The most important teachings  of the Buddha were  the  performance of virtue, and  law of change. When Nihilism is a wrong view, an extreme,  Buddhism is the righteous way.
Death is already in birth, birth will come to death. The Buddha said:
- Shame on this thing birth, since to him who is born death must manifest itself!’ . .  . "Birth being present, aging and death occurs, birth conditions aging and death."[32]
-All beings die. Death is the end of life  .[33]
-Ananda, it so happens, decay takes the place of youth, ailments the place of good health and death the place of vitality    [34]  .     

               Like Lao Tzu, Confucius and Heraclitus[35], the Buddha emphasized the change of things. They were recognized as the earliest dialectical philosophers with their acknowledgment of the universality of change and development through internal contradictions.
Four Noble Truths, law of Paticcasammuppada, Dependent  Origination, and law of change are the Buddhist Middle Way. The Middle Way insists the distinction between  good and evil,  right and wrong. All the  Buddhists must practice virtues and distinguish good from evil. The Buddha said:

-Bhikkhus, I will teach the noble path and the ignoble path, listen and attend to it carefully. Bhikkhus, what is the ignoble path?
Destroying living things, taking the not given, misbehaving sexually, telling lies, slandering, talking roughly, talking frivolously, coveting, bearing an angry mind and upholding wrong view, this is said to be the ignoble path.       [36]

Nagarjuna s’ philosophy is a new thought system with the new concept of "emptiness," "void ness," "lack" of essence, "rezones. According to Nagarjuna, things in fact lack essence, things have no fixed nature, and indeed it is only because of this lack of essential, immutable being that change is possible, that one thing can transform into another. Each thing can only have its existence through its lack (sunyata) of inherent, eternal essence.
Whatever can be conceptualized is therefore relative, and whatever is relative is Sunya, empty. Since absolute inconceivable truth is also Sunya, Sunyata or the void is shared by both Samsara and Nirvana. Ultimately, Nirvana truly realized is Samsara properly understood. [37]

The Buddha affirms  the law of change and the distinction between things and thus it is the middle way, the right way. The right and useful way of religion is the way leading to virtue and morality. What do we do if we have no distinction between good and evil? The distinction of things is the fundamental factor of Buddhism on the view of morality and philosophy. It is also a basic condition  of logos and far from the dialectic of some Northern Buddhist canon such as  Diamond Suttra, and  Prajna Paramita
Distinction is a fundamental feature of logic and morality of the Buddha.
The most important philosophy of the Buddha  is the `Middle Way, it avoids the extremes. The Buddha said:
-'Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle: From ignorance as a requisite condition come fabrications [38]

The philosophy of  Buddhism is a philosophy about  our world, our mind and our body. The Buddha affirmed the Wheel of life consisting of Heaven, Hell, Human beings and animals. He also emphasized his philosophy and his morality such as Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path. The Buddha’s teachings are clear, not nihilistic and paradox.


Buddhism is a religion of morality, it always help its followers how to distinguish good from evil. In  the Pali canon, we can see a lot of moral lessons given by the Buddha:
The non-doing of any evil,
the performance of what's skillful,
the cleansing of one's own mind:
this is the teaching
              of the Awakened. [39]
Noble Eightfold Path is a moral way, a right way.
3.      DHAMMA
          The Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha are the basic principles of Buddhism, and known as Triple Gem . The Buddha said:
Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge and conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine and human beings, awakened, blessed..."The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One, to be seen here and now, timeless, inviting verification, pertinent, to be realized by the wise for themselves..."The Sangha of the Blessed One's disciples who have practiced well... [40]

Following the Buddha s’ Teachings, the Buddhists  must go to the Blessed One for refuge,  to the Dhamma and to the community of monks for refuge. 
Buddha is the Teacher of divine and human beings. The Buddha pointed out the right path, and it is left for us to follow that path to obtain our purification. According to the Teaching of the Buddha anybody may aspire to that supreme state of perfection if he makes the necessary exertion. 
Dhamma is the Buddha’s Teachings. The all-merciful Buddha has passed away, but the sublime Dhamma still exists in its pristine purity. Dhamma is very important, it is the soul of Buddhism. Dhamma is  also the Buddha’s images, and the Buddha’s  representation. Before leaving this world, he told to his disciples:
Live with the Dhamma as your island, the Dhamma as your refuge, with nothing else as your refuge [41]  .   

Unfortunately, the Master has left no written records of His Teachings, His distinguished disciples preserved them by committing to memory and transmitting them orally from generation to generation. Until the 1st century BC, the entire scriptural canon of the school was  then rehearsed, revised and committed to writing on palm leaves. At that time, a lot of Mahayana canon appeared. Therefore, we must study carefully the sutras, and the distinction in this case is necessary. The Buddha had foreseen this event:
8-11. Then the Blessed One said: "In this fashion, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu might speak: 'Face to face with the Blessed One, brethren, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'; or: 'In an abode of such and such a name lives a community with elders and a chief. Face to face with that community, I have heard and learned thus: This is the Dhamma and the Discipline, the Master's Dispensation'.  .   . In such a case, bhikkhus, the declaration of such a bhikkhu is neither to be received with approval nor with scorn. Without approval and without scorn, but carefully studying the sentences word by word, one should trace them in the Discourses and verify them by the Discipline. If they are neither traceable in the Discourses nor verifiable by the Discipline, one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is not the Blessed One's utterance; this has been misunderstood by that bhikkhu -- or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' In that way, bhikkhus, you should reject it. But if the sentences concerned are traceable in the Discourses and verifiable by the Discipline, then one must conclude thus: 'Certainly, this is the Blessed One's utterance; this has been well understood by that bhikkhu --  or by that community, or by those elders, or by that elder.' [42]

4.      The Sangha

The Sangha consists of all people, lay or ordained, who have practiced the Dhamma to the point of gaining at least a glimpse of the Deathless. In a conventional sense, Sangha denotes the communities of ordained monks and nuns. All those who take refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha become members of the Buddha's four-fold assembly (parisa) of followers: monks, nuns, male lay devotees, and female lay devotees. But all the monks, and nuns of all religions do not  have the same knowledge and virtue. We can divide them at least into two kinds:  good and evil. The Buddha criticized bad monks:
Bhikkhus, since I see a certain one wearing the three robes with covetousness, I say that, for the matter of wearing the three robes one is not a recluse [43]
Who are the bad monks? The Buddha said:
The bhikkhu associates whores, lonely women, fat girls, weaklings or bhikkhunis. Bhikkhus, endowed with these five things the bhikkhu becomes distrustful and anxious. Even with good intentions, he becomes an evil bhikkhu. [44]

When the Buddha was still alive, he  realized  some bad monks in his Sangha:
Even if a monk, taking hold of my outer cloak, were to follow right behind me, placing his feet in my footsteps, yet if he were to be greedy for sensual pleasures, strong in his passions, malevolent in mind, corrupt in his resolves, his mindfulness muddled, unalert, uncentered, his mind scattered, and his faculties uncontrolled, then he would be far from me, and I from him. Why is that? Because he does not see the Dhamma. Not seeing the Dhamma, he does not see me. [45]   

Today, there are a lot of pseudo monks and nuns who  are the secret agents of the evil forces penetrating the Pagodas, so we must be careful with them. We must distinguish good monks from bad monks. The Buddha said:
Bhikkhus, who is the person that should not be associated? Bhikkhus, a certain person is below par in virtues, concentration and wisdom. Such should not be associated unless out of sympathy and compassion. [46]
Moreover, the Sangha must  punish them:

Bhikkhus, throw him out! He is led astray. What is the use of cleaning this son of another! To any person it might occur in his approaching, receding, looking on, looking back stretching and bending, bearing the three robes, taking bowl and robes, he is the same as any other good bhikkhu - as long as his fault is not seen. When his fault is seen, he will be known as a highway robber recluse, a prattling recluse, a recluse of rubbish. He should be known thus and others should not be atoned for it. What is the reason? May other good bhikkhus not be spoilt. [47]
Because there are two kinds of monks, we have to choose the good ones. The Buddha told Kalamas how to choose a teacher, and how to analyse his explaining and teachings:

Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor;.  .  .; nor upon the consideration, "The monk is our teacher." Kalamas, when you yourselves know: "These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness," enter on and abide in them.'[48]


Buddhism is a religion of will and wisdom, it is not negative, nihilist or extremist.
















Vegetarianism is the practice of not consuming the flesh of any animal or without also eschewing other animal derivatives, such as dairy products or eggs Some vegetarians also choose to refrain from wearing clothing that has involved the death of animals, such as leather, silk and fur. Vegetarians have varied motivations including religious, cultural, ethical, aesthetic, environmental, social, economic, health, political, and personal concerns.
Vegetarianism was not a part of the early Buddhist tradition and the Buddha himself was not a vegetarian.
However, at the beginning of his holy life, Gotama was an ascetic, and   a vegetarian:
I accepted no fish or meat, I drank no liquor, wine or fermented brew. .  . I took food once a day, once every two days...once every seven days, and so on up to once every fortnight; I dwelt pursuing the practice of taking food at stated intervals. I was an eater of greens or millet or wild rice or hide-parings or moss or ricebran or rice-scum or sesamum flour or grass or cowdung. I lived on forest roots and fruits, I fed on fallen fruits. Such was my asceticism. [49]    

In long run, Gotama realized that it had not provided him with a fully satisfying answer to his problem. Therefore, he decided to eat again, he accepted a bowl of milk  from a maid, Sugata, and having eaten and bathed in order to give himself enough strength to make a new start. The Buddha was about 35 when he became Enlightened and he began to turn the Wheel of the Dhamma, and so was born the Sangha with a lot of Commandments. The first Precept admonishes us refrain from killing but meat eating is not regarded as an instance of killing. As recorded in the Pali scriptures, the Buddha did not prohibit consumption of meat, even by monks. The Buddha explained:
Jeevaka, I say that on three instances meat should not be partaken, when seen, heard or when there is a doubt. I say, that on these three instances meat should not be partaken. I say, that meat could be partaken on three instances, when not seen, not heard and when there is no doubt about it.[50]

In the Theravada tradition, the monks have to accept food including meat or fish offered by people without discrimination or aversion. To reject such an offering would be an offense against hospitality. Although the Buddha put forward the Middle Way, some monks still  lived in the forest following the traditional asceticism, and the  Master    did not came down upon them. Many Buddhists especially Mahayanists practice vegetarianism as the means of cultivating compassion. 

Today it is often said that Northern Buddhists are vegetarian and Southern Buddhists are not. However the situation is a little more complex than that. Generally Theravadins have no dietary restrictions although it is not uncommon to find monks and lay people in Sri Lanka who are strict vegetarians. Others abstain from meat while eating fish. Chinese and Vietnamese monks and nuns are strictly vegetarian and the lay community try to follow their example although many do not. Amongst Tibetans and Japanese Buddhists, vegetarianism is rare. 
Vietnamese proverb says:
Eat  meat and say truth is better than
eat vegetables but tell lies.
            Good qualities like patience, generosity and honesty and bad qualities like pride, hypocrisy, jealousy and indifference do not depend on what one eats and therefore diet is not a significant factor in spiritual development. Food is  the means  not the goal.











The monks and nuns are the recluses, they do not pay attention to the world affairs. But Buddhism is not a negative religion. They have two duties: they have to liberate themselves and the human kind. They have to bring happiness to man kind and all beings. The Buddha said in his Last Admonition:


And what, bhikkhus, are these teachings? They are the four foundations of mindfulness, the four right efforts, the four constituents of psychic power, the five faculties, the five powers, the seven factors of enlightenment, and the Noble Eightfold Path. These, bhikkhus, are the teachings of which I have direct knowledge, which I have made known to you, and which you should thoroughly learn, cultivate, develop, and frequently practise, that the life of purity may be established and may long endure, for the welfare and happiness of the multitude, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, well being, and happiness of gods and men."     [51]    




Many people think that monks and nuns are the recluses, and they do not have any relationship with the world. However, they have a lot of works to do in their holy lives. They have to study Dhamma and practice meditation in order to attain Nibbana.


            Moreover, they have to study literature, culture and languages if they want to become missionaries. Although they are the recluses, they work for society such as nurses in hospitals or teachers in schools. To attain these goals, they must work hard. They have to study Dhamma and  the general knowledge of their time. The Buddha said about three kinds of wisdom:

a. Based on Thought
b. Based on Learning (Hearing)
c. Based on Mental Development (Meditation)[52]

According to the Buddha’s teachings, a monk must  learn many things:


 He has learnt much and bears in mind and retains what he has learnt. In these teaching, beautiful in the beginning, the middle and the ending which in spirit and in letter proclaim the absolutely perfected and purified holy life, he is deeply learned, he remembers them, recites them, reflects on them, and penetrates them with vision.   [53]     \


Then there is the case where a monk studies the Dhamma: dialogues, narratives of mixed prose and verse, explanations, verses, spontaneous exclamations, quotations, birth stories, amazing events, question and answer sessions. He doesn't spend the day in Dhamma-study. He doesn't neglect seclusion. He commits himself to internal tranquillity of awareness. This is called a monk who dwells in the Dhamma. [54]



Householders and the monks are    in mutual dependence. The Buddha was open minded, he realized the necessity of his lay followers in development of the Sangha, so  he praised  them:


Monks, brahmans and householders are very helpful to you, as they provide you with the requisites of robes, alms food, lodgings, and medical requisites for the sick. And you, monks, are very helpful to brahmans and householders, as you teach them the Dhamma admirable in the beginning, admirable in the middle, admirable in the end; as you expound the holy life both in its particulars and in its essence, entirely complete, surpassingly pure. In this way the holy life is lived in mutual dependence, for the purpose of crossing over the flood, for making a right end to stress.[55]

The lay followers have to hold five Commandments but they have a lot of  rights such as to marry, to  carry on business following the Buddha’s Middle Way.

-There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones - using the wealth earned through his efforts and enterprise, amassed through the strength of his arm, and piled up through the sweat of his brow, righteous wealth righteously gained -- provides himself with pleasure and  satisfaction, and maintains that pleasure rightly. He provides his mother and father with pleasure and satisfaction, and maintains that pleasure rightly. He provides his children, his wife, his slaves, servants, and assistants with pleasure and satisfaction, and maintains that pleasure rightly. This is the first benefit that can be obtained from wealth.   [56]

Dhamma, especially Noble Eightfold Path is the most important discipline for the lay followers. In business, they must do good following the Buddha’s teachings. While working,  they can provide rightly themselves, their family and their country with pleasure. The businessmen, the peasants, the workers and the scholars can earn money righteously and contribute their parts to the wealth of their country and the development of  Buddhism.

-Householder, the one enjoying sensuality earning money righteously and considerately and with the money enjoying sensuality and sharing it with others doing merit, partaking it, not enslaved not bound not swooned, wisely seeing the danger and the escape from it, should be praised on these four counts. For earning money righteously and considerately, for enjoying sensuality himself for sharing it with others doing merit and for partaking it not bound, not swooned, seeing the danger and the escape from it, he should be praised on all four counts. [57]        
The lay followers also have the right to protect their property:
Here, bhikkhus, whatever wealth be to the clansman achieved through manly vigour, righteously gained when toiling with his hands while sweat dripped, he protects. This my wealth should be protected so that it would not be carried away by the king, by robbers or water or burnt by fire. It should not be carried away by unwanted inheritors. Bhikkhus, this is the achievement of protection.[58]  

We can apply the Dhamma to  national affairs. We can follow the Noble Eightfold Path,  and  the seven things for non decrease  that  Buddha taught the Licchavis to build and to protect our country:


1.      As long as the Vajjis constantly come together and meet many times, their growth not decrease should be expected.
2.      As long as the Vajjis get together in unity for their activities and dismiss in unity, their growth not decrease should be expected.
3.                  As long as the Vajjis do not appoint new rules and do not break already appointed rules and as long as the ancient laws of the Vajjis are observed, their growth not decrease should be expected.
4.                  As long as the Vajjis honour, revere and esteem the elder Vajjis and consider to listen to them, their growth not decrease should be expected.
5.                  As long as the Vajjis do not use force and oppress women and girls of high clans to live with them, their growth not decrease should be expected.
6.                  As long as the Vajjis worship, esteem and honour the Vajji monuments internally and externally giving whatever offerings earlier given without disturbing them, their growth not decrease should be expected.
7.                   As long as the Vajjis arrange the rightful protection of the worthy ones so that those who have not come would come to the kingdom and those who have come would abide pleasantly, their growth not decrease should be expected .[59]
The Buddha ‘s teachings are as bright as the  lighthouses on the shore that can guide the boats on the sea in the dark nights.

[1] MN.48, Upalavanna.
[2]  Avatamsaka Sutra  (The Flower Adornment Sutra22 The Ten Inexhaustible Treasuries.
[3] DN.21. Sakkapanha Sutta <>
[4] DN.14
[5] DN.21. Sakka-padha Sutta. T.W.Rhys Davis.
[6] Chinese  Shu Ching (Book of History)

[7] Lunyu III. 13. (53)

[8] AN.  III, 5. Upalavanna
[9] DN 16. Vajira & Francis Story
[10] AN 11.13
[11] AN 11.13 Mahanama Sutta. -Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
[12] SN 55.33 Abhisanda Sutta Bonanzas .Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
[13]  SN.39. Moggallàna Saüyutta.
[14] MN 86.Angulimala Sutta . Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
[16] SN3. Division III - Khandhaka. Bhikkhuni Uppalavanna)
[17]MN..XXII.Alagaddupama Sutta.The Simile of the Snake. Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi.
[18] AN.1..Dukanipàta.3. Bàlavaggo. Upalavanna.
[19] The I Ching (often spelled as I Jing, Yi Ching, Yi King, or Yi Jing; also called "Book of Changes" or "Classic of Changes" is the oldest of the Chinese classic texts.
[20] Laozi (Chinese: 老子;Lao tzu; also Lao Tse, Laotze, Lao Zi, and other variations) was a philosopher of ancient China and an important figure in Taoism (also called Daoism). According to Chinese tradition, Laozi lived in the 6th century BC. Laozi was credited with writing the central Taoist work the Daodejing (also called the Tao Te Ching),
[22] Acharya Nāgārjuna, Chinese: 龍樹(c. 150 - 250 CE); was an Indian philosopher, the founder of the Madhyamaka (Middle Path) school of Mahāyāna Buddhism, and arguably the most influential Buddhist thinker after Gautama Buddha himself. His writings were the basis for the formation of the Madhyamaka (Middle Way) school, which was transmitted to China under the name of the Three Treatise (Sanlun) School.
[23] Diamond Sutra, Sec. 8. <>
[24] BODHIDHARMA (fl. 526/527 CE) was the Buddhist monk traditionally credited as founder of Zen in China. He was a South Indian monk who journeyed to southern China and subsequently relocated northwards. The accounts differ on the date of his arrival, with one early account claiming that he arrived during the Liú Sòng Dynasty (420--479) and later accounts dating his arrival to the Liáng Dynasty (502--557). The accounts are, however, generally agreed that he was primarily active in the lands of the Northern Wèi Dynasty (386--534).
[25] Huineng (慧能 or 惠能; ( 638--713) was the Sixth Patriarch of Chinese Chan Buddhism, as well as the last official patriarch. Since then, there are unofficial "patriarchs" of different lineages derived from Chan. He is said to have advocated an immediate and direct approach to Buddhist practice and enlightenment, and in this regard, is considered the founder of the "Sudden Enlightenment" (頓教) Southern Chan school of Buddhism. the primary work attributed to Huineng, the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (六祖壇經or法寶壇經)  was a work attributed to Huineng,
[28] Huinang put forth the theory of "Sudden Enlightenment" (頓教). In my opinion, what he attained when he was young was the results of his previous lives, not a sudden result. It is a special case, not popular.
[29] Abstract from "Platform Sutra", chapter II - On Prajna, translation by A.F.Price and Wong Mou-Lam.)
[31] AN II.4.5. Rohitassa. Upalavana.
[32] DN.14. Mahapadana Sutta.
[33] SN I. 3. Kosala Saüyutta. Uppalavanna)
[34] SN.5.47.IndriyaSaüyutta 5 Jarà- Decay. Uppalavanna
[35] Heraclitus : a greek philosopher in 6th century BC. He said : No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.".- Everything flows and nothing stands  still, or All things are in motion and nothing remains still.
[36] AN 6. 019.  Noble path.  Uppalavanna
[37] The Wanderling.
[38] SN 12,5Kaccayanagotta Sutta
[40] AN.11.12. Thanissaro.
[41]DN3.26. CakkavattiSutta. The Wheel-turning Emperor. THANISSARO..
[42] .DN.16. Sister Vajira & Francis Story.
[43] MN1.4.10. Cåla assapursuttaü. Bhikkhuni Uppalavanna)
[44] AN III  011. Phàsuvihàravaggo - Uppalavanna).
[45] KN. Iti III.92;  Thanissaro Bhikkhu
[46] AN.  I, 3. Tika Nipàta 3. Puggala. Upalavana
[47]AN.vol.5,Atthakanipàta. Mettàvaggo1..Upalavana.

[48]AN.3.65.KalamasSuttra. Soma. Thera



[49] MN.12. Mahàsìhanàda sutta-Nanamoli Thera.
[50]  MN2.55.Upalavanna

[51] DN.16. Vajira & Francis Story

[52] DNII,33. Sangti Sutta.

[53] DNII,33. Sangti Sutta

[54] AN.5.73 Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
[55] "KhN. 107. Iti IV.8; Iti 111 . Thanissaro Bhikkhu
[56] AN.5-41. . Vajira & Francis Story.
[57]AN.vol.6. Dasakanipàta. 010. Upàlivaggo . Kàmabhogãsuttaü . Upalavanna .
[58]   AN 5. 008. Yamakavaggo .UPALAVANA
[59] .AN. IV.  003. Vajjisattakavaggo - The sevens to the Vajjis1. Sàrandadasuttaü.  Bhikkhuni Upalavanna

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