When we learn Buddhism, we need to think and discern before accepting. There are numerous “new age” guru spreading their teachings and branding them as Buddhism.
Regardless of who we learn from, we should try to study Buddhism by reading traditional Sutra / sutra and check what we heard with what we studied. This is our spiritual due diligence.
If we heard something from our friends who are sharing what they learned from their guru; it is also wise to take into consideration, the contextual background event that resulted in their guru’s teachings. Some teachings are meant for that particular person at that particular settings and not meant to be shared. (I will post more of such example in future)
Enlightenment = Ultimate Happiness (No more suffering)
The Buddha’s teaching is about gaining enlightenment. The Buddha perfected himself through countless lifetimes by practicing various virtues such as charity, patience, compassion, etc. Therefore if we are being taught that virtues are irrelevant for gaining enlightenment then something is off.
The Buddha’s teaching guide us to adopt a mental state of
- Non attachment (get rid of craving)
- Non aversion (get rid of hatred)
- Non delusion (understand reality as it is)
Buddhism is a middle path and does not encourage extremes. We patiently work with ourselves and gradually improve ourselves.
Therefore if we receive teachings that seems to encourage us to be more attached to this materialistic world or hate others or encourage blind faith or encourage us not to be mindful of our inner mental development, or make us fear a power figure etc, then something is off ……
In the Buddhism, we are taught the following about existence;
- all phenomenon that we experience in life is impermanent.
- The existence in Samsara is suffering.
- There is non-self. That means we and everything else exist because of inter dependence. Even the “I” that we identify with is a combination of various factors and influences that continue to change “us”. Out of ignorance we attach a false mental imagery to believe there is something concrete and permanent which we fix a romantic terminology call “soul”.
The 3 dharma seals is a common ground that were agreed upon by great masters of different traditions. We can also reference that to check if what we heard is true Buddha’s teachings.
- All things depends on one another to come into “existence”
- This “existence” is in constant flux/change and therefore impermanent
- Nirvana is a state of ultimate tranquility, peace and non suffering.
If we look at the above, a Buddhist is training, through their own effort to be
- a self less person
- that is virtuous and beneficial to themselves and others
- and who are at peace with themselves and others.
- Devoid of craving, hatred and ignorance
Therefore I am more cautious of teachings contrary to the above.