Buddhist Education
Buddhistic Revelation to the Modern World
Author: Bhikkhu Đức Nhuận. Phạm Kim Khải Translated to English
05/04/2011 07:09 (GMT+7)
Font size:  Zoom out Zoom in

phatLetter to World Intelligentsia

Engaged in life at the turn of a civilization, we must confront all crucial conflicts due to the chaos of differing ideologies mankind has been entangled in from the very beginning of civilization. The more we struggle and our efforts increase, the more exhausted and further down pressed into hopelessness and misdirection, and the heavier the loss of confidence in oneself. The social cataclysm has left its imprint on every man's face, the most deeply in the mind and heart of those in their twenties. At this particular impasse of history, it is the intelligentsia who is expected to lead us on the way to the final deliverance from human bondage.

To bring light a life of significance and faith, it is essential to reform our knowledge-and-understanding, which is deformed by shortsighted historians and the negative influence of their one-way credo that there is only one right way of history. That men have also been governed to insane, collective massacres motivated by the ill will of a minority makes the situation even more serious.  Toward their own interests, they have indifferently bartered men's blood and life in struggles for political power.  Human lives have been sacrificed for private interests of individual, of class, or of race.

It is not until man is enlightened and is deprived of every insane craving that he will be freed from this continuous pathos of life, social inequality and historical misdirection.
Enlightenment is much more heard of nowadays than ever before but mostly from those who are abused. They typically misunderstood enlightenment as meaning awareness of individual or class rights or other things of similar earthily meaning. These are only bare words just spoken or written in publication. Nothing of enlightenment well-meant and well-realized except selfish privilege, power and pride.

Noble enlightenment, as Tagore expresses it, is when you are awakened by the spiritual call:
              "Atmānam viddhi"
               Know thyself
               (R. Tagore 1917)

Prior to any possible freedom, let one first rid himself of prejudice, pride and selfishness. It is also true that one's self-liberation must depend for its full realization upon the common cause of humanity like the twin "shadow-and-image". Without this grand vision, we can only go halfway at most or be lost at last.

Self-indulgence naturally means one's excessive attention to his self, that shell indifferently shutting out all problems of common life. Individualistic to selfishness or self-indulgent to aloofness is not much of an enlightened state of being. Of perfect knowledge, kindness and wisdom, he is to do all and everything for the common cause of life, for a world of harmony founded upon self-understanding.  The life of Buddha reveals to us, “His was the right path, right speech, right thought and right conduct".

His immense sacrifice, his great renunciation and the immaculate purity of his life left an indelible imprint upon the mind and heart of generation after generation of Asia. It has become a message to the whole world, as suggests Gandhi,
"For Asia to be not for Asia but the whole world, it has to relearn the message of the Buddha and deliver it to the whole world."
(Gandhi's speech Harijan, 24-12-1938)

As long as we are Buddhists, whose life owes a great deal to the inspiration derived from his teaching, we cannot keep silent and motionless in the face of suffering.
"By their fruits shall ye know them."
By this spirit of realistic compassion, wisdom, equality and altruism we have conferred many and great benefits upon society and are to recover our inner peace, resettle social order and move forward to prosperity.

History is proceeding on to the threshold of the Great Synthesis. All kinds of current problems are overwhelming national boundaries into international development. Modern solutions are required to have sufficient insight to get rid of religious, racial and class prejudices and to look forward to a possible society where in justice will by no means be harmful to any free personality.  This life impulse, whose natural destiny is to find right expression, whose spiritual force beyond one's I-NESS permits the universe, this universal stratum simultaneously manifested within every individual.

Everyone has his own rights, on what he thinks, ponders and chooses, and on how he lives, serves and creates. This concept, might, somehow, seem to pave the way for an excess of individualism should it not be confirmed that we really mean a willing acceptance of every obligation we owe to men as social beings, of which Tagore said in a letter to Gandhi in 1919:
"Give me the supreme courage of love, this is my prayer, the courage to speak, to do, to suffer as they will, to leave all things or to be left alone".

The message was revived through Radhakrishna's inaugural address to the "UNESCO Tagore's Centenary Celebration in Paris".
We must assume our responsibility to help the coming generations build a new life by destroying the springs of man's actions, which lie deep in Ignorance, Hatred and Selfishness.

What we are longing for is supreme compassion in action.
Upon such a basic conception, we can maintain firm and lasting justice, social equilibrium.  Let the social order be upset and freedom will thus be violated, or vice versa:
Let this be, and so will that be.
This non-being  makes that nothing.
Let this be born,  so will that  be.
That this does end makes that ending.

The Buddhist teachings assert as such, the life is as such, and the nature's law of universal mutation as such. And such is the supreme criterion which the Buddhist must always keep in mind, and moreover, bring up to life for the sake of a modern society where in all present conflicts, liberal ownership and family rules be in tune with national common schemes, then nationalism come to terms with international livelihood and humanism! Only whence can we find war come to an end, living conditions over the world be leveled, and no more class rivalries, nor aversion among social communities. Once enmity is annulled, cravings gradually becalmed, the way to freedom will be revealed to all, true religion flowers in full bloom, the glory of Man's transcendental becoming.
Buddhism has been known for its universal compassion human love, its self-perfection and self-understanding, and especially its emphasis upon individual experience, human energy and free will for his self-realization. As far as concerning its grand vision of ideo-cultural synthesis, its living adaptability, peace loving, earthy and practical as well as imaginative and speculative spirit, Buddhism can therefore bring forth to the modern world a life of greater significance and happiness.

By the way, who is the man to lead us people to the blissful state?
The first and foremost are Buddhists or "Buddhas-to-be". Whether or not could Buddhism be fruitful today depends not upon some canonical scriptures or sutras, but mainly upon those intelligent intercessors who preach the LAW to the time and adapt themselves to today’s social circumstances and, moreover, to emphasize how to make this perennial religion be up-to-date, help it be enriched and enlivened, convey it to men of all levels, intellectually and socially speaking.
Buddhism today can only persist its lasting existence if its adaptability works harmoniously with all essential exigencies of the modern time. Such is the way to peace and happiness.

                                                                             * * *
We have heard it contended by men of ideological bias or laymen who interpret Buddhism as sympathyless and atheistic.  They interpret Buddhism as standing aloof from secular society, therefore, reactionary and anti-humanistic. According to them it is the right to question and doubt and criticize and choose. But in fact, Buddhism is never so arrogant or arbitrary a dogma as to enjoy such an attempt as inducing people to believe in it as the only belief.  Buddhism, on the other hand, must be understood as the guide that leads man from his blindness and desire towards the blissful state of supreme liberation. “Man is to be the master of his own desire". This truly emphasizes one's individual efforts for his self-salvation.

Its all-pervasive survival and spread over Asia for more than two millenniums, its lively adapting thereto and reconciliation with the Western World of modern technology, all provide conclusive evidence against the shallow criticism based on lay observations. Endowed with a deeper insight in Buddhism, we believe we can reveal the truth to all, do our best to make the noble teachings well-understood, and inspire the rest of the world with a right-view and right-understanding of the religion in relation to, and in harmony with, all aspects of secular life.

Sentiment, should it mean extreme self-indulgence, would certainly be rejected by Buddhist thought and practice.  Buddhism discovers in our Saha-world that terrific realm of desires where men are constantly disturbed from within and without by bodily inevitabilities and social influences. This is, as the Buddha called it, the "world of sensual desire" namely Kāmadhātu, which brings forth to the growth of birth, existence, decay, and death and ultimately all sufferings. Superior to ours is the "world of pure form" namely Rūpadhātu of deities whose life rises above all desires to the sphere of interplaying motives of Form. A higher "world of no-form or Arūpadhātu excludes all and every sensual desire and form save the mind of interrelation and inter-communication which is still subject to redemption within that sorrowful cycle of re-birth.

It is not until being delivered from this triple world that one would attain the blissful state of nothingness, that of the fully Enlightened which is thoroughly transparent, beyond the trap of transmigration.

It is right in this "world of sensual desire" that the Buddha lived his life as we do ours.  The difference is in that He had carried out an ultimate struggle against desirous inclination for the sake of self-purification in order to evoke the brightness of mind realized in the Great Wisdom and Universal Tolerance.

His love was not that enslaved by an attractive woman, nor meant for self-loving, ownership, filial relationship, unequalled wealth and splendor. His love was meant for all and was one with every sorrowful being. His compassionate love emerged of his transcendental self. Be it not so piteous, he might have not renounced the worldly life, nor have he been so pensively engaged in the world of suffering in which men would pursue their lust for life in sanguinary contention so indulgently that they couldn't pay any attention to their near coming imminent.  There we are with true love as highly elevated in the very Buddhist meaning, and right there can we find the true love of a mind free from defilement.

To criticize Buddhism as atheistic is hasty and subjective, knowing nothing about it.  You cannot find in any Buddhist realms an omnipotent God with caprice of love and hate, that is, a mere personification by human imagination. Now, if you set on a search for God as Mind-Being in the eternally pure essence of Reality, the highest Truth, that the mortal ever tend to reach and to get at that condition of purity, yes there he is as evidence.

Mind-Being is the essence of reality and, though not openly expressed, is latent in everything and every sentient being, expressed or not extant. It transcends all categories and limitations; however, it will only be revealed to those being free from the veil of illusory phenomena, those who fight and already win pure Love and bright Wisdom over earthily Desire, his inner-self be one with that of the universal Suchness. Buddhism as such may somehow be conceived as a theism whose Deities (or divas) are not far from man but as nucleus latent in every living creature. They only come into being and in sight of those who have possessed a universal vision. All such Buddhist terms as "Buddhahood" (the nature of Buddha) or "Suchness" or " Blissful state" or "Nibbana" are various names of the One Mind. Mind is inherent in all. Accordingly, every sentient being can practice the way and develop it to the full realization of the illuminating reality in its essence.

Owing to its conception of Mind as the innermost nature of everybody, Buddhism thus gives way to higher human status but nothing debasing human dignity. Although Buddhism uses the word «sentient being»in a general way, there is, however, the difference among «spheres of existence» due to the force of karma.

Man is one of the most elevated in the spheres of "Samsara", and possesses the best faculty which enables him to get out of this infinite cycle of re-birth and redemption.  Buddhism conveys the true meaning of Man-hood or "humanism", to use a term in vogue today.

It is Buddhism that puts consciousness forth into practical life.  Even in opposition to the tragic conditions of life, the Buddhist has never given way to defeatism, neither praying for external assistance, leaning upon another before trying his best to get rid of his self-bondage. Let us imagine a child sleeping by its mother, who dreams a powerful lion, is attacking her child.  Can the mother save her child from danger or kill the lion in her dream? No, she can't.  She cannot enter into the dream nor do anything but wake up from dreaming. To be awakened, the child will be freed naturally.
«In the same way, one who realizes that his own Mind is Dukkha frees himself instantly from the sufferings arising from (the ignorance of the law of) ceaseless change within the Six Realms. »1
Without self-realization, one cannot understand such things as these. Should he not try to save himself, neither a Buddha nor a Patriarch would be to save him at all. It is up to him paying his dues and completing self-perfection out of his own effort. Outside help, if any, must not outrun the limit of an expedient governed by inter motive of liberation of the self-liberator. It is this emphasis upon the subjective, which, socially speaking has unjustly been charged with selfishness, individualism or irresponsible aloofness.

As long as Buddhism keeps promoting the initiative of self-mastery then it should not be viewed as pessimism, nor a set of abstract intellect far removed from the concerns of the society. Buddhism has its own way of serving and there is, for each one, an individual way to self-realization that is not devoid of the great compassionate heart. However, its adaptability-and-tolerance too has subjected Buddhism to misunderstanding and criticism at the expense of its loving-kindness, all-embracing and all-forgiving practices.  The only thing he can and must do in response is to do good for the sake of all men. A Buddhist, in spite of his being trapped in the sphere of sensual desire, is supposed to make great effort to time himself and do right, to reject wealth and pride, to remove far from lust and discrimination and be ready to serve humanity as doing whatever a man has to do for others.
To criticize Buddhism as an obstacle in the course of historical evolution is to say at the expense of the Buddhist vanguard ideals which were first preached over two millenniums ago, and still; are promoted since the Buddha's first sermon as the earliest call of liberation for personal values and self-realization, especially for intellection to be freed from those socio-theocratic bounds of early India.  There in Buddhism lies deeply the nucleus of all recent revolutions of modern societies.

***
1 Footnote (the three Pillars of zen, p. 161 – A Weathermarh edition).

The Buddhistic revelation to the modern world involves the rediscovery of a coherent view of life that prevents the materialistic civilization from ending in disaster. Societies now come to the climax of cultural ferment where the progressive quality of Modern Art, Technology and Knowledge depends on the amount of sense of purpose, compassion, and humanistic initiatives for coping with life as a whole. Such is the essentials of the Buddhist culture.
To a majority of people, Buddhism is this practice of an age-old cult, carried out and promoted by those half-dreaming ones devoted to dozy, monotonous praying for salvation. They believe in a Buddha similar to a Hindu god Brahma. They worship the Lord Buddha as the Almighty and beseech him for blessings, salvation, and even earthly favors. This misunderstanding has created a veil of religious myths, fictitious and profane, which conceal the realistic spirit of the True Law. That is the reason why Buddhism will be conceived as «a religion both profound and profane. »1
We have to take the responsibility to reveal what is profound in Buddhist teaching to the extent that Buddhism will not come to be a yoke preventing the believers from acquiring spiritual freedom, social prosperity, self-realization and the achievement of world salvation.
There in a serene, aloof monastic cave lived an enlightened monk with his disciples, many of whom had realized the Path. One of the most excellent disciples, known to the whole monastery for his faithfulness and kindness to the teacher and mates, was still far from ultimate success. Year after year and the disciples one after another had reached supreme knowledge and left the monastery for their propagation trips in different directions, but nothing was changing with the long trained disciple, obedient and righteous.

The teacher, after a very long time of studying the situation, came to realize, when a sudden snowstorm brought winter about, that the mind of his student had reached a point when "One More step" or one final thrust is required to attain enlightenment. The cave was thrilled with freezing coldness while the teacher's heart warmed up at the thought that it was possibly the right moment for the disciple to be awakened. After a walk surveying around the monastery, the venerable was found back at his patriarchal seat; beside it was the only fireplace with so dim a fire that it seemed to be nearly extinct. The situation was urgent. So he called his disciple thereto and gave him an order:
«It's necessary now to find some wood for keeping up the warming fire. Go and see if we could get some, my son?» He thus obeyed and left, but he knew the wood storage was already empties after some of those days under unceasing snowstorm. Moreover, snow had blocked up all the ways down to the lower forest. He had tried his best in this vain searching before he returned with nothing but a very sad look.

«I am sorry, Sir; but there is not a single piece of wood on hand while the storm outside is so mighty that nobody can go out…. »

«But how about searching all over the inside, first. If you see anything made of wood or flammable material, bring it here, will you?» was his kind consolation. The religious candidate obediently bowed and went out on another search.

Nothing but rock was available. He presented himself to the teacher at last and exclaim desperately:
«Finally nothing is wooden material, Sir!»

«Oh, worthy one! I believe you will find one thing made of wood, which is right inside this cave only if you try to use the best of your sight faculty. »

In spite of his overwhelmed despondency, he made a decisive exertion to survey all and every corner of the monastery and go as far as the main shrine of the Buddha. Under the throne of the statue, he knelt down and prayed for His revelation before going on a last searching. No doubt, nothing was a wooden thing except the Buddha statue.  All the rest is of rock and iron. He came to the climax of dejection and finally was found kneeling before the monk with fear and trembling from head to toe. He said:
«Oh, sir, there is nothing of wood at all except the Buddha's statue! Yes, the statue is made of wood, really, but Oh, my Lord! It is our Lord Buddha.»

For the first time, the master seemed to be out of temper and scolded loudly:
«You fool!  Why don't you shut up all non-sense words as such? Now, bring it here, that wooden thing. You understand!» Startled and filled with doubt and bewilderment, both physically and mentally, he made for the Buddha statue. He lowered it down from the high throne to carry it back to the monk after he has expressed his utmost respect-with-fear to the statue.

The expression of compassion and calmness then, reappeared on the face and in the eye of the enlightened monk. He picked up an axe, raised it above his head then, with all his strength, chopped down at the glittering gold-plated Buddha into such broken pieces as the very heart and mental cataclysm of the faithful disciple. His sweat streamed down from every pore, his body trembled and eyes uncontrollably came to tear, while his master was quietly throwing the broken wood piece after piece into the flame being increasingly enlivened. The rocky hall was so brightened as this mind-flower flourishing into enlightenment, such blissful moment as when an Archimedes exclaims a triumphant achievement: «Eureka! Eureka!»

«We have now come to the point where we are obliged to consider the spirit, the soul and the physical form as an indivisible unit…» was the belief of Russian physiologist Pavlov, announced in a famous essay on Esprit Scientifique Russell (p. 55). Actually it strikes the time for us to make the Buddhist beholder forsake all illusory manifestation of the religion so that the essential reality is revealed eventually to all humanities. Only in this sense will Buddhism become the most active and realistic, that enables us intelligentsia to find out satisfactory answers to all spiritual necessities, and to re-discover there in the powerful motivation for the growth of a golden civilization with physical progress in harmony with transcendental humanism.

Buddhism has been formed as a crystallization of various schools of the perennial philosophy of ancient India. The Buddha came to life to bring forth to the great synthesis all the former theological, religious and ideological tendencies of Vedic tradition2 . His Noble Path is a complete expression of the human philosophical science ever known to history. In Buddhism are included all fundamental problems of existence, great and small, where all past and present may find definite outlets. That it has not been conceived as such, but otherwise, misunderstood is badly due to ambiguous manifestations in varying languages and forms of overdue conventions. As modern exponents of Buddhism, we have the task of revealing the realistic essence of Buddhist thought to the modern technology, art and learning, which is the meaning of the Unity of all realities, both physical and spiritual.

The tragedy of humanities today thus is the warring conflicts of arbitrary conceptions of life, which in reality is a whole, the indivisible unity. We must agree with professor Nguyen Đang Thuc’s note of this noble unifying vision of life: “… that human society is now experiencing a terrible moral and physical crisis can be explained by the lack of the moral conditions for this unification… the present phase will be one of control of the inner self.

“Experimental science, with its democratic character and with the experience of religions of the East will help the average man master his desires. ” (Asian Culture, Vol, III, No, 2)
And Buddhism, due to its adaptability to the needs of men of diverse mental and cultural and racial backgrounds, is to make more and greater contributions to social progress and spiritual freedom of Man today.

This great synthesis expressed the highest creative spirit of humanity against the natural background of lofty mountains and shady forests of India. Their thought was ceaselessly probing into mysterious phenomena of the boundless universe wherein they seemed to be imprisoned by the Brahma’s indecipherable creative work.

With this belief in Brahma, the God, they established Brahmanism with the basic concept of reincarnation namely SAMSARA, the transmigration or "metempsychosis” that gave way to a social system of caste. The schools of Upanishad appeared not quite as an ultimate negation of that Brahma’s mightiness but did raise foremost the highest doubt on the nonsense and uselessness of this illusive manifestation. This inquiring spirit was the source of all the coming philosophies: The Vedantism first drew Brahma down into every mortal and turned to the cause of human equality. Much more vigorous opposition to former theologies was the philosophy of realistic Vaisesika.
An eclectic tendency opened the way of Samkhya, proposing the dualist existence of transcendental self (Purusa) and primordial nature (Prakriti), the Soul and Matter. The transcendental self ’s will to communicate to, and become one with, the primordial nature would have created this world of illusion. Should this "Will" be nullified, all illusion would consequently cease, and there is revealed the Identity of Purusa and Prakriti.

More than two thousand five hundred years later, the Buddha came to life making his reconciliation of all former perennial philosophies into Buddhism which, upon the foundation of COMPASSION AND BELIEF IN MAN'S POTENTIALITY FOR ENLIGHTENMENT, SPIRITUAL LIBERTY, INDEPENDENCE and SELF-REALISATION, revealed to the world THE REALISTIC CONTENT OF A PERFECT LIFE so far as concerning the SPIRITUAL and PRACTICAL ASPECTS of the WAY TO ENLIGHTENMENT.
The Great Master gave a sharp look at everything in existence as it really is, found at its core the SUCHNESS, which he described as this threefold principle:

- Every phenomenon is impermanent
- Every existence is without a self
- Such is Eternity

This is the nature of things. "An-sich-sein" or "Nomos"3  (a-b) to use Heidegger's language, the keyword for man at the threshold of the immense treasure of universal secrets, the very original source of this world. This understanding of THING-IN-ITSELF only helps him unload ignorant attachments one by one, and get closer to his transcendental self.

The world of phenomena is a component system of universal causation.  Men who will make up his mind to probe into the deep mysteries of life and the universal evolution must know this Noble law of "cause-and-effect" relativity in making efforts to turn the Wheel to a finer moral status, human salvation will be achieved eventually.

One's Karmic record of life makes him suffer in the mortal world, and undergo a series of incarnations. Sufferings, we believe, are originated from sensual cravings that never cease to increase day by day. Only by following the Noble Eightfold Path (āryāstānga mārga) can one realize that blissful state of Nirvana.

Buddhism starts from its spiritual point of view to make its way through the Six-Dust World for the ultimate liberation from human bondage. However the point of departure, i. e. Buddhism, is not the absolute truth, but only a means, provisional and non-real, like the "finger that points to the moon" a symbol of the true reality. The most emphasized Buddhist concepts are the personal value and the freedom of thought that help it be developed and embellished by generations one after another. The freedom of thinking is the most essentials of all and no wonders Buddhism has been widespread and welcome all over the world while no warring conflicts are known in the history of its religious propagation at all.

German historian Dietrich Seckel, in "The art of Buddhism" expresses his convictions as such when he writes: “It will be appreciated that this was not the foundation upon which one could establish an obligatory dogma. Hence Buddhism could easily adapt itself to alien ways of thinking, doctrines and cultural conditions, without sacrificing its basic concepts. This of course meant that it had to renounce the lives and thoughts of the people under its sway… It was presumably this modesty in its claims that enabled it to spread peacefully into such vast areas, where the cultural pattern was so different. " P. 18-19.

Over two millenniums of existence with the peace-loving peoples on the eastern part of the world, Buddhism never ceases to develop and open up new dimensions of spiritual life, thought and feeling.

ON ART
The Buddha's First Speech, since the moment of his Enlightenment, was artistically expressed verbally. His eloquent teachings were therefore highly appreciated by the great variety of beholders and have lent themselves to artistic representation all over the world of Buddhism.
His metaphors delivered to his disciples were recorded in the "SUTRAS of HUNDRED EXAMPLES" each skillfully conveyed the deep meaning of his message of salvation. It provides various good descriptions of this suffering humanity, the cause of sufferings, "also presents a moral conclusion for each story to suggests to every one of its characters a definite outlet according to every particular circumstances. This enables the religious beholders the good examples out in their practical life.
The Buddha's attitudes and noble behavior gave way to the very formation of Buddhist rituals and conventions. His solemn voice was the prototype of later rhythmic praying and such art forms as religious prose and poetry, ritual and music. The fine arts produced thousands of stupas, pagodas and icons of Buddha for the sake of religious contemplation as well as the means of propagation of the Dharma. Some hundred years before Christ, the Buddhist painting and sculpture had gradually developed but were not fully in bloom until the first century of Christ. This literature, sacred writings, music, painting, sculpture and architecture, drama and then modern cinema and television are now sufficiently available on the message of Compassion and Wisdom of Buddhism.

There is remarkable virtue of stylistic adaptability to all native arts in the ecumenical world of Buddhism where the Buddha's original concepts and art-forms have been willingly undergoing various metamorphoses to be come one with all and every native embodiment.
The more it elaborates, the richer it is in form and expression. As a rule, Buddhism, when penetrated into the soul of a community, serves to raise its culture and civilization to a higher horizon of the Buddhist worldview. In many instances it was only with the coming of Buddhism, only through the stimulus it provided and the aspirations it awakened, that art could develop fully and reach standards acceptable in all parts of Asia. Thanks to Buddhism the various art traditions, which until then had been largely regional in scope and self-sufficient, were enabled to establish contact with one another on an ever-growing scale, to exchange ideas and to fertilize each other.

As concerning the greatest of all contributions Buddhism have made to the art of Asia, Professor Seckel writes: «Buddhism succeeded in solving one of the major problems of Asian art: the problem of rendering the sacred in a human form of universal validity and appeal. »
In fact, the history of Buddhism from the third century B. C intimately comes to be one with that of Buddhist art.

ON KNOWLEDGE
On the foundation of synthesis and freedom of thinking, the Buddhist literature has evolved, with the participation of generations of intelligentsia, into a magnificent treasury of sacred books, namely: «Ocean of letters, forests of bibles. »

The sacred books are divided into three main sources, namely The Bible «Sutram», The Law «Vinaya», and The Philosophy «Abhidharma.»

The source of Sutram includes verbal teachings of the Buddha as reported by his disciples in the five great Sacred Books.
The source Vinaya, the system of essential laws that are to be observed by both the renounced and the Buddhist believers, serves as the substratum of the Buddhist order.
The source of Abbidharma includes philosophical treaties that explain and develop the essential meanings of the original Sutram.

This great treasury of literature came from successive generations of Buddhist authors. After The Master's Parinirvana, the first council of the Sangha was organized to gather his original teachings and basic religious laws as the cornerstone of the Buddhist order. This was the meeting of about 500 disciples or so, taken place at Ràjagriha city. The Bibles were Anada's dictation, and the Books of Law under Upali. The Essays or Abhidharma were later written as the further development from the former bibles. Two collections of the sacred books, namely Agamas and the Tenfold Recitation Vinaya hence came into being as the output of this gathering.

A century later, a second meeting was organized at Vesàli, aiming at a general review over the former sutras and vinayas, and in the mean time, to clear out all nucleus of strange conceptions and evils scattered right inside the community. This was also conceived as a turn of the ideology toward coming divergences into a variety of schools.

It has been said that Master MAHADEVA with his fivefold revolutionary manifesto4  had launched the first blow of a liberation movement that split the primitive Buddhism into two schools namely the conservatism of Hinasanghika and the liberalism of Mahasanghika. Both still underwent many further sub-divisions5 .

This complex dissociation showed an interesting panorama of the wealthy treasure of Buddhist literature on the one hand, but otherwise might lead learners into the kaleidoscopic world of letters, with a great variety of confusing and contradictory of aspects. It is up to the Buddhist missionary first and foremost to gain a good insight into the matter in order to build modern creative writings on the old treasure.

Buddhism in India was found to be geographically divided into the Northern school of Mahayana and the Southern school Hinayana before spreading out abroad: The Northern Buddhism took metropolitan Gandhara as point of departure to travel eastward to China through Central Asia, the highway of Buddhism, thence moved forward in various directions to Mongolia, Manchuria, Korea, Japan and Vietnam. The Southern school spread out from Ceylon to reach Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. On its pervasive travel, Buddhism adapted itself to all and every native belief while adopting more and more novelties.

Buddhist intelligentsia all over the world and the representatives of every Buddhist nation are now making all their best for the achievement of (what may justly be called) the Unity of Buddhism for the common cause of the world's peace and happiness.

After the past two millenniums or so of polarization now, Buddhism is at the very threshold of the long-fought for unification and synthesis (as is the case of the Vietnam Unified Buddhist Church which was brought to life in 1963). We expect this remarkable reconciliation of the Northern and Southern school in Vietnam will lead to the rise of the Buddhist world unification some day.
For the cause of great harmony inside the Buddhist world, the follower of Buddha is supported to have an open mind and welcome whatever is essential coming from all sides of the earth, while trying incessantly to gain a deeper insight into the Noble content of the Great Master's teachings.

ON TECHNOLOGY
It is impossible for Buddhism to answer satisfactorily to the exigency of practical problems so far as concerning material and man's power for organizing a working technological system, but on the other hand it does reveal the realistic basis of the essential principles of science. This should be conceived as the very output of man's thought and consciousness over the experimental and practical problems of the time, there was, and still is a scientific theory as the technological world today. That's why Kantilya, an Indian scholar says:

«Philosophy is the lamp of all sciences, the means of performing all.» The further science is proceeding onto the atomic age and its investigation into space, the closer it is related to Buddhism. The Buddhist view point is not that of an infinitesimal physics, indeed, but due to the non-empirical experience to give worthy explanations of the physical world which are really on good terms with modern scientific insight.

Hundreds of years before the modern astronomers asserted the existence of the multitude of other worlds of being in the outer space, the Buddha had, from his Boddhi tree of Enlightenment, taught of the Trisaharasramahasahasro lokadhatu or one billion worlds that exist in the universe around our planet. It was quite impossible for such a radical concept to be acknowledged by his contemporaries until recently it was so reaffirmed by modern science. There is no question that the early Buddhism is one of the most original «ideas” that the history of philosophy ever presents. In its fundamental ideas and essential spirit it approximates remarkably to the advanced scientific thought of the nineteenth century. The modern thought of Schopenhauer and Hartmann is only a revised version of ancient Buddhism.

«As far as the dynamic conception of reality is concerned, Buddhism is a prophecy of the creative evolutionism of Bergson. Early Buddhism suggests the outline of a philosophy suited to the practical wants of present day and helpful in reconciling the conflict between faith and science. » S. Radharkrishnan6 .

Buddhism is thus conveyed to us not only as a philosophy or spiritualism but also a functional basis of science. Other than a way of salvation, Buddhism still expresses itself as the realistic ideology, which is capable of evolving into a complete development of Modern culture as concerning Art, Learning and Technology.

Now is the right time for those endowed with the heritage of wisdom from our Lord Buddha to put His Noble Truth into action? Let's transcend the human conditions and establish a finer and better life in the harmonious religious-secular regime on earth. To that extent Buddhism will come to be adaptable to all the variety of intellectual exigencies of the age.
To deal with the culture of Buddhism, the history of a cultural synthesis with a long existence of more than two millenniums, this general survey is quite impossible and really inadequate.
However, most essentials have been revealed as:
- First, our consideration of the modern world: its situation at the turn of a civilization and its «debasement» promoted by the proposed Buddhistic motivation.
- Secondly, the misunderstanding of Buddhism.
- Thirdly, the fundamental principles of Buddhist teachings.
Last but not least is the ideo-culture of Buddhism or Buddhistic consciousness and force to be brought to life for the good of the present propagation of the Law.
May the Light of Compassion be with us all.

translated by Pham Kim Khanh

1 (The Buddha and Buddhism-The New Face of Buddha, truờng phòng lục, 18 by Jerrold Schecter)
2 the Buddha was a religious reformer an Asian Martin Luther, Like Luther, the Buddha questioned the prevailing religious doctrine of his time and sought to change it. The Buddha rejected what he considered to be the abuses of the Hindu religion, with its rigid caste system and animal sacrifices. He rejected the Hindu scriptures, the Vedas, as divine revelation, and he did not accep the all-powerful Creator-God Brahma, the Hindu Universal Lord of Life. (The New Face of Buddha- J. Sehecter,truờng phòng lục 1-2)
3 a) "Le "NOMOS' n'est pas seulement la loi, mais plus originellement l'assignation cache' dans le décret de l'Etre. Cette assignation seule permet d’enjoindre l'homme à l'Etre." HEIDEGGER, Lettre sur l’humanisme (ÜBER DEN HUMANISMUS) page 148 Question III.
b) “In the deep mystery of this "THINGS-AS-THEY-ARE" we are released from our relations to them”. Things as they are, the coldness of ice and the sound of rain, the fall of leaves and the silence of the sky, are ultimate things, never to be questioned, never to be questioned away.
“when all things are seen WITH-EQUAL-MIND they return to their nature.”
-the Hsinhsinming-Zen & Zen classics, Vol. I, Page 87. R.H. Blyth
4 MAHADEVA'S Five Points:
Arhats are Still influenced by the Evils that make out their sperm pollution in dreams;
2-   Arhat are Still unaware of their own indisrriminate wisdom, namely their false knewledge on the Dhamma (the truth);
3-   Arhats are Still harbored in their unsettled Skepticism;
4-   Arhats couln't know the attainment of their Arhatship by themselves, but by the Enlightened One's revelation;
5-  Arhats could be, for their own enlightenment, awakened to the Way thanks to the various Sounds.
5 THERAVADINS (The Elders Sect):
-Haimavatra
- Sarvàstivàda
- Vàtsiptra
- Dharmottariya
- Bhadrayànika
- Sammiti
- Sanhagarika
- Mahisàsaka
- Dharmàgupta
- Kasyapyà
- Sutravàda
b) MAHÀSANGHIKAS (The Greater Assembly Sect):
- Ekayàvahàrika 1
- Lokottaravàda 2
- Kukkutika         3
- Bahusrutiya      4
- Aparacaila         5
- Caitika               6
- Prajnaptivàda    7
- Uttaracaila         8
6  Indian Philosophy, Vol I, pp. 342

                                                       Phạm Kim Khải (The Buddhist Translation Group)

 Go back      Go top        Print view       Send to frinend        Send opinion
» Audio
» Photo gallery
» Buddhism Dictionary
» Lunar calendar