May 19, 2010

Whose Buddhism is best?

<kalamaIt depends on who you ask. Each school has taken time to assert its superiority by virtue of its "authenticity." In the last issue, Tricycle editor-at-large Andrew Cooper took a historical look at such claims:

Traditionally in Buddhism, for a school or doctrine to be regarded as authentic, it must be traceable back to the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni. Most often this has been done through scripture: schools or movements based themselves on particular texts said to be the Buddha’s teachings. This was seldom only a matter of establishing legitimacy; it was usually tied as well to sectarian polemics about superiority.

The best way, the fastest way, the truest way, higher teachings and  lower, each school has its story. But with all manner of schools taking root in the same place, the historical view can help us to understand what it is that we do believe and why, and how others have arrived at different and equally valid conclusions.

For helpful historical perspective, read Andrew Cooper's What the Buddha Taught? And if you're trying to sort out competing truth claims, you can always rely on the Buddha's advice to the Kalamas.

Image: Standing Buddha Shakyamuni in a mudra dispelling fear. Found in China in the eighteenth century. Lineage unknown. © 2010 Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation. Photographed Image © 2004 Rubin Museum of Art

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jjwalker7730's picture

The one that has a heart

konchog kunsang's picture

there is only one teaching. it is our deluded minds that think there are many.

Vu Nguyen's picture

In the Buddha era, his teaching, guidance, philosophy and psychology were promoted mainly through words of mouth and symbols due to many reasons such as illiteracy, lack of resources or means such as technology or perhaps even occasionally at the Buddha requested. It was not until centuries later that the Buddha teaching, guidance, philosophy and psychology were slowly or gradually recorded as scripts. Eventually, his disciples and supporters traveled, migrated and lived in different parts of the world, in particularly Asia, and therefore, the present recording of the Buddha teaching have evolved through the interpretation and or translation, revision or improvisation from words of mouth, the poorly original recorded scripts and the influence of societies and life transformations.

The Buddha main or primary teaching and guidance is on seeking and developing knowledge, intuition, insight, mindfulness, reason, wisdom, awareness, consciousness, oneness and truth; positive and constructive emancipation and transformation of the mind, heart and senses; caring and respecting nature, all being, humanity and living things; recognizing reality or overcome illusion or delusion; and eliminating miseries or the cessation of sufferings for oneself and all sentinel; evolution of consciousness and achieving spiritual existence. Therefore, it would be reasonable to state that the teaching, guidance, philosophy and psychology that reflect, encompass and advance the above and following characteristics or traits such as loving-kindness, scientific and enquiring mind, equality, tolerance, inclusiveness, pluralism, honesty, empathy, goodwill; compassion, forgiveness, accountability; responsibility; truthfulness, non-violence, peace, harmony, altruism and higher consciousness would best reflect or match the Buddha thoughts or consciousness.

Future Buddhism can best be emancipated, nurtured and evolved through the application, promotion and advancement of the above life meaningful dimensions or such as understanding; tolerance; inclusiveness; reason; goodwill; loving kindness; collaboration; interfaith; accountability; responsibility; conscience; caring; empathy; altruism; sincerity; peace, harmony, sciences such as of the mind, biology, physics and consciousness; compassion; universal human rights; truth; positive and constructive emancipation and transformation of the mind, heart, and senses; preventing and cessation of sufferings; and oneness or wholeness or spiritual existence.

Vu Nguyen's picture

In the Buddha era, his teaching, guidance, philosophy and psychology were promoted mainly through words of mouth and symbols due to many reasons such as illiteracy, lack of resources or means such as technology or perhaps even occasionally at the Buddha requested. It was not until centuries later that the Buddha teaching, guidance, philosophy and psychology were slowly or gradually recorded as scripts. Eventually, his disciples and supporters traveled, migrated and lived in different parts of the world, in particularly Asia, and therefore, the present recording of the Buddha teaching have evolved through the interpretation and or translation, revision or improvisation from words of mouth, the poorly original recorded scripts and the influence of societies and life transformations.

The Buddha main or primary teaching and guidance is on seeking and developing knowledge, intuition, insight, mindfulness, reason, wisdom, awareness, consciousness, oneness and truth; caring and respecting nature, all being, humanity and living things; recognizing reality or overcome illusion or delusion; and eliminating miseries or the cessation of sufferings for oneself and all sentinel; and achieving spiritual existence. Therefore, it would be reasonable to state that the teaching, guidance, philosophy and psychology that reflect, encompass and advance the above and following characteristics or traits such as loving-kindness, scientific and enquiring mind, equality, tolerance, inclusiveness, pluralism, honesty, empathy, goodwill; compassion, forgiveness, accountability; responsibility; truthfulness, non-violence, peace, harmony, altruism and higher consciousness would best reflect or match the Buddha thoughts or consciousness.

Future Buddhism can best be emancipated, nurtured and evolved through the application, promotion and advancement of the above life meaningful dimensions or such as understanding; tolerance; inclusiveness; reason; goodwill; loving kindness; collaboration; interfaith; accountability; responsibility; conscience; caring; empathy; altruism; peace, harmony, sciences such as of the mind, biology, physics and consciousness; compassion; universal human rights; truth and oneness or wholeness or spiritual existence.

Kevin's picture

As long as the practice is intelligent and sincere, lineage styles are just forms. And if Shakyamuni and Bodhidharma were only a myths, it wouldn't mean a thing to me. This practice has the potential to transform lives and benefit the entire world. The Buddha Way is unattainable; I vow to attain it.

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