Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dharma, dharma everywhere and not a drop to drink

.Buddhdharma magazine has an excerpt from the new edition of Thich Nhat Hahn's (commentary on) The Diamond That Cuts Through Illusion.  A sample follows:
"Subhuti, what is called buddhadharma
is everything that is not buddhadharma."
Those who bring Buddhist practice to the West should do so in this spirit.  Since Buddhism is not yet known to most Westerners, the essence of Buddhism won't have much chance to blossom in the West if the teachings emphasize form too much.

If you think that the teachings of Buddhism are completely separate from the other teachings in your society, that is a big mistake.  When I travel in the West to share the teachings of Buddhism, I often remind people that there are spiritual values in Western culture and tradition -- in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity -- that share the essence of Buddhism.

A Buddhist monk I practiced with said that the idea that somehow the dharma in the West in somehow immature or not as good as that of the East was nonsense.  The question is comes down to whether the Buddha's insights were original to him and whether they can only be transmitted through his words and example framed in Eastern cultural trappings. 

Is either of these notions accurate?

If not, then it must be the case that the dharma is bigger than Buddhism, and that even the Buddha if he were alive would still benefit from the insights and experiences preserved in the living traditions of other societies.  And if that is so, then how much more can Buddhists and other students of the dharma benefit?

If you live in an area that has no Buddhist center or temple, or no study group at a home with traditional Buddhist iconography, do you feel as if you are adrift at sea with no land in sight?  Maybe when you go online or to the bookstore you fill your canteen with fresh water, but the rest of the time what you are surrounded by is too briny, too impure, to nourish you?  That it might even harm you?

Look again.

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