Monthly Archives: December 2012

Gathering 12: Four Divine Abidings, Four Assurances

In reflecting on our discussion Sunday, I find it interesting how the Buddha’s injunction to approach authority skeptically imposes greater responsibility on the individual than does the traditional injunction to obey the commands. “Know for yourself” is hard; “believe without question” is less hard. Or rather, hard in a different way.

For those who accept the challenge, who choose their way wisely and practice it diligently, the rewards are significant. In the Kalama Sutta, the Buddha presents those rewards in terms of ways of living that were known, in the culture of his time, as Brahma Viharas. The term is usually translated as “Divine Abidings”; as the Buddha used it, it clearly means living as a God might live, living a life imbued with God-like qualities.

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Gathering 11: The Buddha’s Teaching to the Kalama Clan

Our reading for this week, and for next week as well, is the Kalama Sutta—the Buddha’s teaching to the Kalama people in the village of Kesaputta. In it, the Buddha is as clear and forceful as he ever gets at insisting that the only proper approach to the way that he teaches is with a skeptical attitude and a pragmatic intention.

The discourse, which is widely known and widely translated, has sometimes been called “The Buddha’s charter for free inquiry.” The discourse has two main sections; in the first, the Buddha leads his Kalama questioners toward an understanding of the kinds of tests they might apply to a particular doctrine, to determine whether it presents a way worth following. In the second section, he goes very briefly over the benefits to be realized through choosing a good way and following it diligently. On Sunday, we’ll focus on the first section of the teaching, and we’ll spend some time next week looking at the second section, with particular attention to the four “Divine Abidings”—open friendliness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. We’ll also look glancingly at the role and nature of an afterlife in the Buddha’s teachings.

But Sunday evening, I’d like to keep a focus on the qualities of skeptical inquiry that the Buddha recommends in this teaching. Please read the translation I’ve put up on the site, and you might want to follow the links I’ve provided to other translations on the web.

I’d also like to you look at the summary of the values that I hope we’ll bring to our investigation of the Buddha’s way in our gatherings.

Gathering 10: Meditation

[The following mail message went to the community mail list on 12/12/2012. It’s here for historical purposes; except for the sutta on the site that is linked in the email, nothing was posted on the web for this gathering.]

Gathering 9: The Buddha’s First Discourse

The Dhammacakkappavatthana Sutta

“The Discourse Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dhamma

This is how I’ve heard that it happened…

On that occasion, the Fortunate One had come to Varanasi, to the Game Park at Isipatana. There he addressed the five ascetics:

Bhikkhus, there are two ends that cannot help one on the way. What are those two? For anyone, lust and self gratification is degrading, vulgar, mean, not uplifting, not beneficial. And for anyone, self-mortification is painful, not uplifting, not beneficial.

Bhikkhus, you can avoid those two dead ends by taking the Middle Way realized by The Wayfarer; this Middle Way is an eye-opener; following it, you will come to know. It calms you down, lightens your load, reveals the truth with lucid clarity; you will awaken fully, released completely from all pain and distress.

“And what is this Middle Way realized by The Wayfarer that brings vision and knowledge, calms you, reveals the truth, leads to awakening and complete release? It is a Path with eight factors: correct understanding, correct purpose, correct speech, correct action, correct livelihood, correct effort, correct awareness, and correct concentration. That is the Middle Way realized by The Wayfarer: producing vision and knowledge, it will calm you, reveal the truth, and wake you up so you will attain complete release.

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Gathering 8: The Great Ocean & the Dhammavinaya

Gathering 8: December 2, 2012

The term Dhammavinaya is a compound of Dhamma– the doctrine taught by the Buddha regarding how all experience unfolds in the world, and Vinaya– the disciplined practice of meditation and directed thought through which the Dhamma can be helpfully applied to individual experience, so that we might respond skillfully to that experience and move toward greater well-being.

Here is the back story to to sutta passage presented below.

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