Buddhist Teachings

  • Stephen Batchelor in Insight Journal: You don't have to believe in rebirth to be a Buddhist Paid Member

    Not many things in life are free, but there are exceptions. One of them is Insight Journal, the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies publication edited by the center's co-director Andrew Olendzki. You can either order the hard copy or, if you're eco-conscious, download it. Of course, it's always a great help to offer dana—a donation—when you do. The organization supports itself through its paid courses and the generosity of its members and friends. This issue features a piece by Stephen Batchelor on his doubts about (or nowadays, his outright rejection of) rebirth—and he finds what he feels is support in Pali Canon. Years ago we featured a debate between Stephen and Bob Thurman on the topic—Stephen played skeptic, of course, and Bob the true believer. But nowadays Stephen isn't particularly interested in arguing the point and is more likely to reflect on how he came to his beliefs and his ever-evolving understanding of the Buddha's teachings. Here's an interesting excerpt from the Insight article: I am not in any way suggesting that the Buddha rejected the idea of rebirth, or did not believe in it..there is just too much in the Canon to say the Buddha was even agnostic about this. But there is another strand of text that seems to not quite fit that very well. I think the Pali Canon actually has multiple voices within it, not a single, monolithic voice. You get contradictory perspectives introduced all the time, which is part of the very richness of that literature. In the Kālāma Sutta the Buddha says, don’t just accept what I say because I am your teacher, because the tradition says it, or because it seems to be reasonable. At the end of that text, he speaks about the four solaces, or rewards, that come from the practice of the Dhamma. One solace says, if there is indeed another life, if there is, indeed, a law of karmic cause and effect, then, after death, you will be reborn in a happy realm and benefit from the results of your present karma. The second solace says, if there is no future life, if there is no law of karma, then, too, by practicing the Dhamma you will live happy and content, here and now, in this world. That is very striking: the Buddha seems to be saying what really matters is not what may or may not follow after death, but the quality of your experience, here and now in this very life. Admittedly, this passage occurs once, whereas rebirth and karma occur everywhere. Nonetheless, it looks oddly out of place. For that very reason, it is probably original: It would have been in no orthodox tradition’s interest to have added it later. Even more to the point is “the declared and the undeclared” in the Mālunkyovāda Sutta, Majjhima 63: More »
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    Marc Lesser on accepting paradoxes Paid Member

    Marc Lesser, executive coach and Zen teacher, wrote the article "Do Less, Accomplish More" for Tricycle for our Fall 2009 issue. Doing less while accomplishing more sounds like a paradox, right? Well, Lesser has a new article up on the Huffington Post called "Accepting the Paradoxes in Your Life." He writes: More »
  • "Abbey Dharma" on Politics: Respect Others' Opinions Paid Member

    I think that calling oneself a Buddhist implies a dedication to non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion—a dedication that certainly transcends political stance. It would be wonderful if our sanghas welcomed political diversity and used practices of skillful speech to explain our opinions to one another. In situations that do not feel combative to me, I can work collegially. I can modify my position to accommodate others. I can recognize situations in which an attachment to a particular view has kept me from realizing a larger truth. What if we, as Buddhists in communities, were a model for the world political community? Sylvia Boorstein, "Dear Abbey Dharma" (Summer 2010) Click here to to read the complete article. Sign up to receive Tricycle's Daily Dharma emails here. More »
  • Learning to Accept Not-Knowing Paid Member

  • The Joy and Pain of Close Relationships Paid Member

    Today’s Daily Dharma, You do not learn non-attachment by disengaging and avoiding the intensity of relationships, their joy and their pain. It is easy to disguise as non-attachment what is not non-attachment at all, but your fear of attachment. When you really care about someone and you are willing to commit to that friendship, then you have fertile ground to learn about both attachment and non-attachment. That is what makes the marriage relationship so rich. -Judy Lief, "Tying the Knot" (Spring 1998) Read Judy Lief's commentary on labels and reactions from her ongoing teachings on Atisha's Lojong (mind-training) slogans here. More »
  • On disagreeing with the Dalai Lama Paid Member

    A few posts back I cited an AFP article in which the Dalai Lama, in advocating nonviolence, appeared to criticize the Sea Shepherds, a group of anti-whaling activists who have been much in the news lately. After the AFP article appeared, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society president Captain Paul Watson responded on the organization’s website, reiterating his group’s commitment to nonviolence while acknowledging the Dalai Lama’s past and present support:: More »