September 30, 2009

What Really Matters

The Buddha refused to deal with those things that don’t lead to the extinction of dukkha (suffering.) He didn’t discuss them. Take the question of whether or not there is rebirth after death. What is reborn? How is it reborn? What is its “karmic inheritance”? These questions don’t aim at the extinction of dukkha. That being so, they are not the Buddha’s teaching nor are they connected with it. They don’t lie within the range of Buddhism. Also, the one who asks about such matters has no choice but to believe indiscriminately any answer that’s given, because the one who answers won’t be able to produce any proofs and will just be speaking according to his own memory and feeling. The listener can’t see for himself and consequently must blindly believe the other’s words. Little by little the subject strays from dharma until it becomes something else altogether, unconnected with the extinction of dukkha.

- Buddhadasa Bhikkhu from "A Single Handful," Tricycle Winter 1996

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star's picture

Did the Buddha teach anything at all about "void"? I haven't found it in my reading of Pali suttas. He teaches extinguishment (of the fires of craving) in nibbana, he teaches impermanence in all things, he demonstrated a lack of permanent self in us and in all created things, but I think the ideas of "void" and "emptiness" came later and just add confusion.

alan's picture

The premise and motivating spirit of this article is timely. But what is this emphasis on "Void"? Maybe it sounded better in Thai, but there is an odd mixture here that doesn't come together for me.

David Henise's picture

Too true.